Do not stand idly by

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By John Barrett

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You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.

Leviticus 19:16

Another mass killing. This time in Las Vegas. Fifty-nine people murdered and over 500 injured. Will it never end? How should we respond? What can we do? 

Take time to mourn. Think about all the innocent people who lost their lives and the effect that it will have on all who knew and loved them. At the next meeting that you attend — be it with friends, relatives or acquaintances — ask for a moment of silence to reflect on this massacre.

But don't stop there.

Become more educated on gun violence prevention strategies. What do you know about Second Amendment rights? What are the responsibilities of a gun owner? Does everyone have the right to own a gun? Any gun? Are there limitations on the number or type of weapons that can be owned? Is there a limit on ammunition? What responsibilities do gun dealers have? How can you explain mass shootings to your children? Read about it. Go check it out at the Library. Google it.

Join an organization. There are plenty: The Brady Campaign and Moms Demand Action are national organizations. There is a state organization, Illinois Coalition against Handgun Violence ( and a local group, Gun Responsibility Advocates ( Check them out. Get involved. Attend a rally. Carry a sign. Remember what Robert Kennedy said: "Ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Support legislation. Another specific action you can take is to support legislation to have gun dealers licensed by the state of Illinois. SB 1657 has passed the Illinois Senate and we are trying to get it passed by the Illinois House in the veto session (Oct. 24-26 and Nov. 7-9). This bill will reduce the flow of guns that are used to commit crimes. Reportedly, the killer in Las Vegas purchased a large number of guns this last year — many from the same dealer. Should this not have caused alarm bells to go off? Call your state representative and ask them to support SB 1657.

The Peace and Justice Committee at Saint Edmund Church has held a Prayer Vigil to End Gun Violence on the last Saturday of every month for nearly four years. The next one is on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. on the church lawn, 188 S. Oak Park Ave. All are welcome to attend. We read the names of the people who were shot to death in the Chicago area during the previous month. There are about 60 every month. Just about the same number killed in Las Vegas.

Gun violence is an ongoing national problem.

Don't just grieve. Don't just stand there. 

Do something.

John Barrett is a retired trauma surgeon and a 30-year resident of Oak Park. He was the director of the Cook County Hospital Trauma Unit from 1982 to 2002. He is a founding member of Gun Responsibility Advocates and a member of the Saint Edmund Parish Peace and Justice Committee.

Reader Comments

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Alice Bethany  

Posted: October 11th, 2017 7:31 PM

Leviticus 19:28: "'Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord." I gotta agree with God on that one. I am not a fan of tats myself.

Alice Bethany  

Posted: October 11th, 2017 7:29 PM

Here is some Leviticus 27 1-4 for y'all! The Lord said to Moses, 2 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate a person to the Lord by giving the equivalent value, 3 set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels[a] of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel[b]; 4 for a female, set her value at thirty shekels[c];

Ray Simpson  

Posted: October 11th, 2017 3:07 PM

The basic issue is "how" or "why?" Gun control may have some small effect on "how" people hurt others. It totally ignores the "why" people settle differences with violence. The "how" is relatively easy - write a law that the courts will ignore just like all of the others and you did something. The "why" is a more difficult and personal problem. We have a small percentage of our population who live outside of our civil and cultural bounds. There have always been the 3%'rs, but today they have been abandoned by our schools, politics, churches, families and progressive welfare state, so they write their own rules. Solving the "why" is hard because it highlights our own failures and might require each of us to examine our own attitudes and actions.

David Fagan  

Posted: October 11th, 2017 2:06 PM

I learned according to the FBI over 300 million firearms were sold just during the 8 years of Obama's term. Seems odd they keep reporting 340 million firearms in America when I consider the handgun model 1911, made 100+ years ago and still in service. People in the real world believe the number is much closer to a BILLION and possibly a TRILLION rounds of ammo in private hands. With those numbers I would have to believe if firearms were really the problem by GOD we'd know it!

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: October 10th, 2017 7:10 PM

I picked up two very interesting points that I hope are true. MSNBC reported that since Aug. 01, 1966, the day Charles Whitman started shooting from the Texas Tower in Austin until today there have been 131 mass shooting incidents with 948 dead. What is not counted is gang shootings, crimes and such. I Iisten to 560 AM radio in the mornings. There is a caller, Sean from Elmwood Park. He stated that every day, the U.S. Federal government issues tax money for 847 innocent executions a day. The policy is abortion. He also mentioned that the people who died in Vegas had the chance at a life, a birthday party and some happiness before being snuffed out. Maybe, we should take a look at all lost innocent life, determine the value of that life and as a nation chart a course from that point. That point is all life is valuable.Head(mind) heart and hand.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: October 10th, 2017 6:58 PM

Yes, we should not stand idly by. First we should file FOIA requests to determine how and why the Obama Administration came to the conclusion that bumpstocks were not a danger. Who knew what, when, and how and who, if any, were on the NRA gift parade. The State of California in 1990, bans the possession of bumpstocks, except for Claifornia residents who allready owned one. As a police officer, I was trained to listen to what a person says, and to what a person does not say.In the Vegas case, what isnt being said is why someone would carry 19 long firearms to the 32nd floor of a hotel, and only, for now any way. carry and or use ammunition for only two firearms of the same caliber. Ammunition is very heavy and very expensive. I own a Glock 9mm, and without the magazine and ammunition, the empty Glock weighs as much as an empty soda pop bottle It appears that this person was a high roller gambler and may have been trading or selling firearms to cover his gambling debts. So what makes an assault weapon an assault weapon?I ask you to google the movie Gettysburgh. Col. Chamberlins bayonet charge from Little Round Top and "We were soldiers once" the final battle scene. In both cases the order was given to go from a defensive high ground position to an offensive (assault) forward attack.. In the blink of an eye, or discharge of an order, the firearm goes from defensive to offensive (assault). Of course there is the bayonet, which I as a gun owner will happily pronounce illegal. The firearm itself does not change. so what does change? The Head(mind) heart and hand. That changes. No law will ever ban head(mind) heart and hand. For instance, Catholic IRA who for decades fought the civil war in N. Ireland with M16s and exsplosive devices to the Catholic Polish who used Solidatary to over throw their masters without weapons. There is a good chance the Poles didnt have access to the weapons. Maybe some day we will know.

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