I am a resident of Chicago, I lived 25 years in Lakeview and my son Ricky was murdered in Logan Square on Aug. 3, 2012. He was 24 years old.
The most gun-ridden area of Chicago is a few minutes away from Indiana. Because of the porosity of our borders and the fast growth of the gun industry, our federal laws need to be strengthened not only to protect our Second Amendment rights, which we all enjoy, but to make sure that we have done our best to protect our law-abiding citizens and our children from the devastation we are witnessing.
How much does this cost Illinois per year, per person in terms of human services? Thousands of dollars for families and labor loss due to post-traumatic stress disorder and other collateral psychological and medical needs. How much does a gun cost? In Indiana, between $50 and $100, not including higher-capacity weapons. Just a few days ago the police caught a man with hundreds of guns coming from Indiana to sell in our streets.
I once had two sons who were raised with the same love that our lawmakers raised their own. They went to good schools. My Ricky was a double honors student at Lincoln Park High School, loved sports, became a chef at Le Cordon Bleu, worked full-time as well as going to college and studied to become a nutritionist to build onto his culinary skills. He was a popular kid, and his friends were great. He left us two months after moving to a supposedly safe and trendy neighborhood. He was shot with a semi-automatic gun trying to park in front of his apartment.
I thought my job was done. Little did I know I was about to begin this journey as a gun safety activist and have recently returned from D.C. with the Newtown Action Alliance and gun violence victims across the nation to lobby for safer gun laws.
I am now coming from the comfort of my privacy to ask Congress to join us and co-sponsor the bill to improve background checks at the federal level. This can at the very least put a brake on illegal trafficking from other states, force out people who shouldn’t have guns, who can—as the law now stands—do it legally through private sales, the Internet, etc. I know that they will go to the black market, that an awful lot more needs to be done at the local level, but this is a start that can instantly save the lives of thousands. Let the mentally ill and the criminals try harder and risk more—we will have a better chance to catch them.
As Gov. Pat Quinn offers to Mayor Rahm Emanuel police reinforcement, and there is no respite from the avalanche of guns that continue to be peddled in Chicago and the suburbs, I am calling Congress members to serve their country, their consciences and their hearts. I want to see the grandchild I may have by my surviving son play in the park with the smile made out of innocence and a soul untouched by our struggles.
We are grateful for the members of Newtown Alliance for reaching out to us in the understanding that gun violence and its proliferation is an epidemic that affects all of us and destroys the potential of a great nation like ours.
We know this is what the majority of the nation wants —including 74 percent of the NRA members. We need Congress to make the wishes of our people a reality.
— Maria Pike Davis, Chicago