Why This Mass Shooting Is Shocking to Those Who Know Chicago
There isn't really anything shocking about another mass shooting. There really shouldn't be anything surprising about it either. So far as a society, we've chosen that the right to own a gun - almost any kind of gun - is worth the carnage left behind when innocent people, sometimes children are killed by them. What is shocking to those who are familiar with the Chicago area is where the shooting happened.
Reading comments on the Facebook posts of the story from Kansas City television stations or those published by national sites. The comments were all pretty much all the same. Another shooting in Chicago. Not surprising at all. It happens all the time. Except that isn't true. Highland Park isn't really near Chicago, it's 30 miles away from Chicago. And violence like this doesn't happen there every day.
Highland Park is one of the wealthiest, well-to-do, Northshore suburbs of Chicago. A place known for large homes, and mansions. According to USA Today:
Highland Park's population is largely affluent compared to the rest of Illinois: the city's median household income was $147,067 in 2020: more than twice the median household income for the country and the state of Illinois, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About three-quarters of the city's residents over the age of 25 have a bachelor's degree or higher.
More than 10% of the homes in the city are worth more than $1 million.
The rest of America knows Highland Park through the lens of John Hughes' movies. The homes used in "Risky Business", "Sixteen Candles", and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" were all shot in Highland Park. Hughes himself grew up in the area, in the much less wealthy town of Northbrook six miles away.
I mention all of this to point out that it's probably one of the last places in the Chicago area people would think this would happen. We all have that mentality. That wealth, or living in the suburbs, or living in a small town like Sedalia, Knob Noster, or Warrensburg somehow protects us from a tragedy like this. That we're more protected from it than someone who lives in Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Columbia, Joliet, or Rockford.
Yet, this shooting proves that's just not true. It only takes one person in a community, any kind of community, to experience some kind of trauma that leads them to try to solve it by mass murder. It doesn't matter if you're rich, poor, rural, suburban, white-collar, or blue-collar. It can happen anywhere, any time.
The question is when will we actually get serious about fixing the problem? It's not just guns either. I personally don't think banning guns outright will solve our problems. Yet, I don't think giving every American a gun is an answer. Or that ownership of a weapon designed to mow people down in war is the same as owning a handgun.
There's truth to the saying guns don't kill people, people kill people. And that's really what we need to discuss. Access to health care, access to mental health services, parenting, our children, our educational system, and morality. We need to discuss how violent video games and violent movies may subconsciously influence people into thinking a mass shooting is an answer to their problems. Not to mention, how we as media, cover these mass shooting events that put significant attention on the shooter. We need to not just discuss these issues, but try to find solutions for the problems we find in each area.
We may never be safe from some kind of violence in a free society. That may be part of the trade-off for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with evil in the world. But I believe we can be a lot safer from mass shootings if we help each other be healthier.
Otherwise, I fear it's a matter of time before we're all touched by a mass shooting. Even here in quaint, rural, Sedalia.