Has Chicago Really Become Chiraq?

Chicago, Illinois just experienced what law enforcement has described as the “bloodiest weekend in history”. As of the last week of August 2018, there have been 379 homicides this year, and 319 of them were from gunshots. This averages a person murdered about every 15 hours.

Guns, Gangs, and Grandpa’s Rifle

I grew up in South Central Illinois, and these statistics refer to the largest, most recognizable city in my home state. The problems affecting those who live in Chi-town rarely, if ever, trickle down to effect those who live outside the “state of Chicago”. The rising rate of shooting deaths, however does weigh heavily on the minds of many of us downstate.

Chicago residents aren’t all gang-banging, gun-wielding, sign-throwing thugs any more than my neighbors are all hayseed, tobacco chewing, overall wearing yokels. We southern Illinoisans have more in common than we realize, especially when it comes to a need for gun reform. Hunting seasons, open carry laws, and FOID laws are all part of the complex issue.

Got Beef?

So, what is motivating all of this gun violence? Well, Spike Lee, in his 2016 film Chiraq believes that there are multiple forces at play that have instigated and continue to aggravate the gun problem in Chicago.

In the movie Chiraq, Lee focuses on this issue, and explores the underlying socioeconomic issues that have fueled this epidemic by setting the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes on the streets of Chicago with a star-studded cast of veteran actors that mostly hail from the Windy City itself.

Chicago has been at odds with itself since its earliest days. While it displays a bustling metropolis of go getting business professionals, that shiny exterior gains a more worn patina throughout the interior of the city. In the stockyard days, poverty was also hidden behind the visage of grand buildings and banks of rolling fog.

How Communities are Fighting Back with Love

The citizens of Chicago are trying to take back their streets, schools, churches, and stores and make them places of safety and comfort once more. In the wake of such staggering amounts of bloodshed, the people are tired of living in fear, and are rallying together to help enact changes to Illinois gun laws.

The issues surrounding gun reform in our country are as complex as the people that wield them. I don’t know that I believe anyone really knows the right answer to the problem. I do know that we have to try to solve it.

Be Proactive

Children should never have to be afraid to live and learn. When the reality is that they aren’t safe in their schools and community parks because they might get hit with a stray bullet, the time has come to stop this violence.

There are countless ways to enact the changes we want to see in our society. Thanks to the rights we have as citizens to enact that change, we have an obligation to our future to do so.

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