If we knew we had a killer in our midst, what might we do to protect ourselves and our children? Because we do have a killer in our midst. The indisputable statistical evidence that this is true are gun deaths, sufficiently prevalent to alter life expectancy in some demographics. It is now the greatest cause of death among children — children! — in the United States. Although fear for our safety might prompt us to buy a gun, the truth is that the gun makes us less, not more, safe.

 A laudable movement is underway to regulate the sale of guns, but it is powerfully and professionally opposed by advertising, employing seductive messages to vulnerable adolescents that the “manly” thing to do is own a gun.

The idea that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is a popular myth, but it is hard to imagine how a toddler, fascinated by and playing with an unsecured gun can accidentally kill a sibling except with a gun. What is the killer here?

While the problem of gun violence is complex, the prevalence of guns is simply the most important element of the danger. I therefore urge consideration of efforts not only to minimize gun sales and eliminate military-style weaponry but also to reduce the huge number of guns in homes, some for many years, many unused and unwanted, and I applaud and urge efforts such as gun buy-backs and programs like Guns to Gardens as good risk-reduction efforts. The goal would be to reduce the level of gun ownership in this country to that in other countries where the toll is not so great.

The village of Oak Park and the Oak Park Police Department could host such programs.

Although it is common for some remuneration to be offered for turning in a gun, the greater reward is to have improved one’s personal safety and the collective safety of the community.

Sandra Shimon
Member of Gun Responsibility Advocates
Oak Park

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