That was all the sixteen-year-old boy was able to say after being shot in the West Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago on September 20. His wish failed to be granted, for he passed away shortly after in Mount Sinai Hospital. His life was cut short solely because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and no one deserves to die because of that.
Just thirty minutes away from my home in Winnetka, dozens of people are getting shot everyday. Chicago gun violence is out of control. Along with the sixteen-year-old boy, fourteen others were shot between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, and it does not stop there. Another man was shot to his death just a day later in Garfield Park, and another thirteen other people shot from Saturday night to Sunday morning. Shootings are becoming a regular thing, for so far this weekend there were at least 29 innocent people who were shot.
The number of shootings in Chicago has raised by 5% in the past year. Instead of progressing, Chicago is just becoming more and more violent. Approximately 2,000 people were shot last year, and if we continue at our rate now, the number will be even higher in 2014. Obviously, something needs to be done to wane the number of deaths and injuries. DePaul University started a program, in which they work with Chicago ninth-graders who live in areas that are frequently exposed to gun violence. They teach these children ways to manage their stress instead of turning to violence, in hopes that their generation will help diminish the high gun violence rate. I think this program is excellent and should become a requirement to take a course like this for all students who reside in violent neighborhoods. These children are not violent, but when they grow up in an environment like the one they live in, violence can become all they know. It is important to teach them alternate lifestyles in order to create a safer future.
Teaching children while they are still young right from wrong will improve the future, but we also need to focus on improving the violence that is occurring now. Currently in Illinois, one needs a state permit and owner license required to purchase a long gun and a handgun. One cannot obtain a gun if one has been convicted of a felony, assault or battery, been in a mental institution within the past five years, is an illegal immigrant or has a mental disability. This seems to be a good system; however, it was not stopped shootings from happening. In order to prevent it, people must issue stronger background checks and enforce gun control even more. The safety of these dangerous neighborhoods, like Garfield Park, also need to be improved to protect people who could potentially be victims. Chicago's Safe Passage program, which we discussed in class, is helping to do just this and is a step in the right direction. This program, along with DePaul's program and enforcing gun control, will hopefully all help to eliminate gun violence, but that day cannot come soon enough.