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Guns Kill More People than the Gorilla Shot Memorial Day Weekend

Photo by Dmitriy

Published in ChicagoNow, June 7, 2016

Sixty-nine people were shot, and six of them died, over Memorial Day weekend in Chicago. That’s the same weekend a gorilla was shot to death by zookeepers in Cincinnati to save a small child who had fallen into his habitat. Social media lit up over Harambe’s death, but where was the outrage about the Chicago shootings? What hashtags were trending? I guess we are so used to folks being shot and killed around here that we don’t have much to say anymore. But a gorilla. Well, that’s a different story.

Like so many others, my initial impulse was to blog about the shooting death of Harambe. Of course, I believed that saving the child took precedence, and I was also upset by the mother-shaming. Upon reflection, I wish I had not joined the countless bloggers writing about the death of a gorilla. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone seems outraged about some aspect of this incident, and the whole thing has gone viral.

But where is the outrage over the violence, injuries, and deaths of human beings caused by guns that same weekend? According to the Chicago Tribune, these people were killed in Chicago Memorial Day weekend:

 Veronica Lopez, age 15, shot riding in a car with two gang members on Lake Shore Drive.

 Mark Lindsey, age 25, shot while sitting in a parked car in front of his mother’s house.

 Garvin Whitmore, age 27, shot in the head while sitting in a car with his fiancée.

 Damien Cionzynski, age 25, shot by one of two men inside a BP gas station.

 James Taylor, age 44, shot multiple times and left on the street.

 Johan Jean, age 39 shot in the neck in what might have been a domestic incident.

In all, 69 human beings were victims of gun violence, but the main takeaway in the media seems to be an acceptance that Chicago has a problem with guns. Yes, we do. There are too many guns in the hands of some pretty bad people. And yet, we continue to talk endlessly about the shooting of a gorilla.

In November of 2015, I wrote about Tyshawn Lee, the nine-year-old gunned down in an alley on his way to his grandmother’s after school. The same day, I was waiting for my nine-year-old granddaughter to arrive at my house after school. I could definitely empathize with the grandmother whose child never made it to her home. There was a bit of outrage about Tyshawn’s death, but once the shooters were revealed to be gang members retaliating against his father as part of a gang war, that became more of the story rather than the fact that an innocent child had been killed.

In December of 2015, the mass shooting at the San Bernardino, California holiday party in the Inland Regional Center by a married couple that appeared to be home-grown terrorists killed 14 people and wounded 17 more. At the time, I wrote a blog post called Gun Violence and a Preschool Song of Peace. And on the third anniversary of the slaughter of 20 young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I despaired that in three years, nothing had been done about guns to make our children safer. Then, in January of 2016, I wrote about a story buried on page eight of the Chicago Tribune headlined “In Other Shootings.” I was depressed that we have we become so accepting of the violence caused by guns that this story could be brushed aside so easily. I guess we are numb to our problem with guns in this country. These posts did not attract nearly as much attention as the one I wrote about the shooting of a gorilla to save a child from being harmed.

When I read that National Zoo scientist emeritus Benjamin B. Beck said, “The big take-home for me is that people are moved, incredibly moved, by the death of this gorilla,” I was moved… to write again. I wish we could just harness some of the outrage and sorrow over Harambe’s death to solve our problem with guns killing so many people every day in this country. When will our outrage over the deaths of our fellow Americans at the hands of guns go viral?



by Laurie Levy
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