Gun violence in America is out of control

ON SATURDAY, it was Kalamazoo, Mich. A gunman shot six people to death. Police said he randomly selected his victims as they went about the ordinary business of a winter weekend. On Sunday, it was Hazelwood, Mo., where a gunman killed a 37-year-old mother as she rode in her car. And Yazoo City, Miss., where a 25-year-old man in a nightclub was shot in the chest and died. And Merrillville, Ind., where a relative murdered a husband and wife in their 60s and then turned the gun on himself. And near Houston, where a 17-year-old murdered a 25-year-old, apparently a rival in love, and then shot himself in the head.

All that is far from a complete accounting of the people killed or injured in gun violence in the United States over the weekend. So routine are shootings that only the particular horrors of mass shootings like a Kalamazoo or San Bernardino or Charleston attract any national attention — and even then not for long. Kalamazoo’s senseless deaths, sympathy for the families, speculation about what drove the accused gunman — sorry, that’s old news. Time to move on.

After October’s rampage at a community college in Oregon in which a gunman killed 10 people, including himself, and wounded seven others,President Obama lamented that mass killings have become “routine” in the United States. “I hope and pray that I don’t have to come out again during my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. But based on my experience as president, I can’t guarantee that,” Mr. Obama said.

The United States loses far more people to gun violence — homicidal, suicidal, accidental — than almost any other country, and there is one reason: the easy availability of guns. Other countries struggle with mental illness. In other countries, teenagers play violent video games. Uber does or does not perform adequate background checks in other countries, the particular distraction of the Kalamazoo case. Those may be interesting issues. But it is guns that make the difference.

So far in this very young year, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, there have been 6,886 incidents of gun violence in the United States, killing 1,781 people and injuring 3,475, as of Monday afternoon. Of those killed or injured, 74 were under age 12.

We hope that voters keep those numbers in mind when they make decisions this year about who should represent them in public office.

Editorial at the Washington Post.

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As the Lake County State’s Attorney, I am honored and humbled every day to lead the fight against crime, and to strive to ensure equal and just treatment under the law. I have been an attorney for twenty-two years – and each of those years has made me a stronger and smarter advocate for people, for ideas, and for the principles that unite us all.

I am so proud to lead an office of 140 dedicated colleagues who serve the public by prosecuting crime, advocating for victims, and planning crime prevention programs. I am also proud to work with hundreds of Lake County police officers on a daily basis to connect with every community and to develop comprehensive, holistic plans to respond to the mental health and economic crisis that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On one particular day, July 4, 2022, I was saddened, inspired, and motivated by the bravery of so many people. We will always stand with the victims and honor the police and other first responders who ran toward the danger. Just as so many heroes that day thought only of themselves, I also witnessed the prosecutors in my office answer the call to serve survivors and their community – even on one of its darkest days.

Every moment that I have been your legal representative, I have worked tirelessly to oversee prosecutions and to implement policies that make my family and my neighbors safer in the short term and in the long term. That is the job of the State’s Attorney: to prosecute, to innovate, and to strategically plan.

I was raised in a small town. My parents are teachers, and from them, I learned that everyone must be treated equally and that America’s sacred mission is to provide a political, economic, and legal system that allows anyone to prosper regardless of the circumstances of their birth. After graduating from Knox College and the University of Chicago Law School, I spent two years at a first-rate civil law firm in Chicago where I learned that hard work and attention to detail on every case mean the difference between success and failure.

With my wonderful wife Stephanie, I am raising my two sons, Sam and Teddy, in Lake County. Nothing is more important to me than my family’s safety and I bring that passion and determination to protect all families with me to work every day.

I joined the Lake County Public Defender’s Office in 2003 and started my own law firm in 2009. From 2003 until 2020, I watched the Lake County legal system fail to prioritize violent crime, prevent wrongful prosecutions, or address racial disparities.

So, in 2019, I decided to run for State’s Attorney so that I could serve our community by improving a local legal system that cared more about covering up its mistakes and biases than uncovering new and innovative ways to help people.

I won the 2020 election, and became the first Democrat to hold this position in 40 years. Bringing in a new party wasn’t as important as ending 40 years of one mindset that had forgotten the people and that had failed to act urgently to develop new strategic plans to prevent crime while also ensuring that each prosecution is smart, moral, and just.

We have followed through on our promises. We have built the first-ever violent crimes unit, increased prosecutors in our domestic violence division, and vastly upgraded our cyber lab. Now, we have top-notch software and personnel to finally keep up with those who would exploit others.

We have been awarded a large federal grant to bring the first ever Human Trafficking Task Force to Lake County. We have deepened our investment in people by bringing in more victim specialists and raising the salaries of many of our prosecutors.

But the work goes on. We must expand our prevention efforts that are starting with the Gun Violence Prevention Initiative launched in 2022. And we know that the opioid crisis touches thousands of lives throughout this country.

I am proud to serve on the Executive Board of the Lake County Opioid Initiative which has been working tirelessly since its founding in 2012 to reverse a devastating trend of increased overdoses. In 2022, our office was part of a national settlement against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

As an attorney of 22 years, I have committed my life to helping people, and I have conducted over 70 jury trials in Lake County, and handled appeals that have culminated in over 20 oral arguments before the appellate court and Supreme Court of Illinois.

I see my time in this office as the next phase of helping a community that I love and where I have chosen to raise my family. In my first term, we have made Lake County safer and fairer through just prosecutions, constitutional policing, and innovative crime prevention policies.