Local Editorials | Northwest Herald

A single day of violent attacks shows societal problems to be addressed

Police cars and ambulances converge outside Six Flags Great America after reports of gunfire just before the Gurnee park closed Sunday night. (Courtesy of Alicia Fabbre)

On Sunday night, Aug. 14, a group drove up in a sedan, got out and shot at people in what police call a targeted attack that hurt three in the parking lot at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.

Also that Sunday, a man was killed and another wounded after someone in a vehicle on Interstate 88 in Oak Brook opened fire at another vehicle; two other occupants were hurt when the victims’ vehicle crashed. Then, Elgin police took multiple people into custody in an investigation of shots fired west of the downtown.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., a man drove his car into a barricade near the U.S. Capitol and then began firing gunshots in the air before fatally shooting himself, according to police. Then in Berwick, Pennsylvania, state police say a man who was upset about an argument with his mother drove through a crowd at a fundraiser for victims of a recent deadly house fire, killing one person and injuring 17 others, then returned home and beat his mother to death.

And on the South Side of Chicago, three people were killed and another was hurt in a hit-and-run crash in which witnesses believe someone was targeting people who were fighting outside a bar.

All this news appeared in just one of our editions, on Monday. And it came on top of the regular weekend shootings in the city that we are cautious about reporting on because the numbers of those shot are quickly outdated by the time they appear in the paper.

This is, obviously, not even close to the starkest news we’ve reported on recently, what with the mass shooting in Highland Park on July 4, the shooting at Oakbrook Center in January, and of course the shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y. But it does reflect a complexity of the violence problems facing the country that runs deeper than just weaponry.

As we have written, danger lurks as long as almost anyone can easily acquire firearms, many of which that can fire off scores of rounds in matters of minutes. But there are other problems beyond even just the news of this single day. They include helping people with their mental health, especially before they become a danger to society (note that one case above didn’t even involve firearms). We must also learn more about why people are trying to solve their disputes by fighting and shooting at each other.

Add to these issues the challenges police face in dealing with them amid skepticism from the public, resulting in staffing issues (even before ambiguous calls to “defund”) as well as justified concern about how they’re being trained to handle mental health cases.

We’re reminded of what DePaul University Professor Geneva Brown told us in reflecting on the slayings of four people in Barrington Hills 50 years ago: “We have to brace ourselves for the social conditions that created the randomness of violence,” she said, citing alienation, anger and disillusionment as possible motives.

It was true half a century ago. It’s still true today.

We’ve called on political leaders to do something significant to thwart gun violence. They have contributing social conditions to address, too.

The Daily Herald