BY GWEN MCELHATTANJanuary 8, 2016

Known for its great skyline and amazing food, Chicago is an incredible city — and my home for nearly my entire life. I’ve grown up knowing how to navigate the “L” train system between places like Lincoln Park to Millennium Park. I live for the days that I get to come back from college and have a slice of deep-dish pizza.

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While visiting home in recent years, however, I’ve been greeted by much more grave issues seeking my attention: guns, violence, and death. These things seem to be taking over my city, and making it feel much less like the home I love.

This isn’t only Chicago’s problem. Every day, dozens of people are killed by guns across the country. Whether these deaths are a result of gang violence, police brutality, or a lack of legal barriers to purchasing guns, the evidence is clear: firearms are causing needless death, and we are standing by while it happens.

President Obama said when introducing new gun control measures this week, “The constant excuses for inaction no longer do. No longer suffice. That’s why we’re here today. Not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to try to prevent the next one.” This subject can no longer be allowed to be on the back burner.

In 2015, there were more mass gun shootings than days in the year. We have become too desensitized to the horror that is surrounding us. It is our job as believers to stand against this violence by upholding ethics, morals, and the love that our God and his son have taught us.

Obama’s new executive action seeks to require anyone who sells guns to register as a firearms dealer and conduct background checks on buyers. In addition, he is seeking to expand mental health access in order to reduce the number of guns owned by those who are currently not mentally stable.

However, there has already been pushback. Fierce supporters of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, believe that the president is trying to take their guns and rights away from them. President Obama has responded by stating, “Second Amendment rights are important, but there are other rights that we care about as well, and we have to balance them. Because our right to worship freely and safely ― that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina. And that was denied Jews in Kansas City. And that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs in Oak Creek. They have rights too.”

As the debate surrounding gun control continues to heat up, it is our moral responsibility, both as citizens of this country and as those who believe in the commitment to peace our faith requires, to continue pushing on. The new executive action is good, but the fight is not over yet. There still continue to be loopholes. These loopholes can, however, be fixed with the help of individual state governments and officials.

You can be the difference. Become an advocate for gun control today by calling your state representatives and leaders. Ask them to call for an end to the rampant gun violence and to support the new executive action. They, too, can help by finding a solution to gun ownership loopholes.

As a country founded on the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it is our job to make sure we are constantly committed to upholding that mission. Everyone deserves life, and no one deserves to die from an injustice like the misuse of guns.

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Gwen McElhattan is a junior at Creighton University majoring in Social Work and Justice and Peace Studies. She hails from River Grove, IL, a suburb of Chicago. At Creighton, she is a Student Coordinator for the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice, serving on both the communications team and the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice Core Team. Every week she leads a group of Creighton students to the North Omaha Boys & Girls Club to tutor and build relationships. Her hobbies include service, art, Netflix, and justice. The advocacy issues close to heart include immigration, economic justice, and environmental justice.

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