In a world of disheartening news about our politics, there was the remarkable report last week that Sen. Mark Kirk, our actual moderate Republican, had joined with a Democratic senator, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, to sponsor a bill that truly focuses on the epidemic gun violence in cities like Chicago.
While we have all been mortified by the deaths of children in Newtown, Conn., we see the bloody horror of young lives taken on the West Side in repeated fashion with numbing despair. The gun trafficking law sponsored by Kirk and Gillibrand goes to the heart of the urban slaughter by seeking limits on so-called straw purchasers who buy guns legally with the express purpose of reselling them to criminals, mainly gang-bangers.
This is the sort of logical regulation on the movement of guns into murdering hands that ought to be readily accepted by all people of good will. We know that will not be the case. But having it proposed in this bipartisan manner may provide the concept with a fuller hearing.
Beyond our connection to the West Side’s violence, what is the relevance to Oak Park? Well, we know we’re quibbling now, but Kirk’s announcement of the bill called out just nine Illinois towns where gun and gang violence are a scourge. Chicago, of course, Metro East near St. Louis, Waukegan, Cicero and Oak Park.
Not the company a town wants to keep, and not at all a fair assessment of Oak Park’s gang status. As in many things, Oak Park is something of an island with troubling gang issues surrounding us in Chicago, Cicero and Maywood.
Though Oak Park is not impervious to gangs, we are also not a gang hotspot.