Seven people were killed and 46 wounded here, including in two multiple shootings on the west side. The first of the shootings, in the Douglas Park neighborhood early on Sunday, left seven wounded; the second, in Lawndale hours later, wounded another seven and killed one.
“As a city, we have to stand up and do a hell of a lot more than we’ve done in a very long time,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in an address on the violence over the weekend.
“There are no adequate words at this point,” she said of the violence.
Photograph: Kamil Krzaczyński/AFP/Getty Images
Often lost in national conversations about guns are shootings occurring every day in places like Chicago, which has continued to see high levels of violence, mostly affecting its predominantly black and brown south and west sides.
“In Chicago, it’s just another weekend,” Father Michael Pfleger, a south side pastor and anti-violence activist, said of the national response to the city’s deadly violence. “It gets forgotten and pushed to the side.”
Where mass shootings tend to command widespread media coverage, Pfleger said, violence in Chicago tends not to make national headlines. In part, he believes it’s become an “old story” after years of the city suffering from a devastatingly high murder rate. But it also has to do with the fact that those being affected by the city’s scourge of violence are mostly black and brown Chicagoans, he said.
“Black and brown life being taken by gun violence is not something America has been concerned about for a long time,” the St Sabina pastor said.
“It needs to get the same attention,” Pfleger continued. “We have 47 people shot and seven killed. If that happened over in Iraq, that’s all anyone would be talking about.”
To erase everyday violence from the national conversation about gun control is to lose sight of the scope of the problem, according to Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
“We do that at our own peril,” Brown told the Guardian. “It’s not routine for the people who live in these communities, and it doesn’t have to be accepted as normal.”
As studies have shown, mass shootings like those in Texas and Ohio represent just a fraction of gun deaths in America. Suicides and other homicides account for the majority of firearm-related deaths.
“We need to look at gun violence as the public health epidemic it is,” Brown said. “We have to change the cultural narrative around guns.”
Doing so can be challenging, though, given the unwillingness by Republicans to act on commonsense gun reforms.
“The shootings that occurred this past weekend in Chicago are certainly not taken for granted by the neighborhoods and families that experience them all too often,” Rob Nash, chair of the board of directors for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, said in an email interview. “The only people who have accepted gun violence as being routine are public policymakers who refuse to take action to stop it.”
Brown said the Brady campaign was continuing to work on changing the national narrative about guns, and Pfleger is organizing a national demonstration in Washington DC, in September in an effort to pressure lawmakers into action. “They’re not gonna just do it,” Pfleger said of gun reform. “They have to be pushed.”