The Chicago pseudo-newspaper/tabloid RedEye released graphics mapping Chicago’s 2010 homicides in today’s issue. The statistics are disheartening enough when put in terms of numbers, 217 homicides in 6 months, but when you see it on a map it’s downright overwhelming. You can visit RedEye’s interactive homicide map and even though the view is by month I will link, eventually, with the map for all of 2010 so far.
This perspective revealing the scope and embeddedness of violence in Chicago comes little more over a week after the United States Supreme Court ruling that effectively makes Chicago’s 28 year-old ban on handguns null and void. While the city has countered by enacting various restrictions to help counter the rulings potentially disastrous outcome for Chicago an unavoidable feeling that there is less and less citizens and local governments can do in the face of this relentless American gun culture.
We can look to the proliferation of Conceal & Carry as evidence that guns are becoming more and more “available” around our nation:
“All but two states have legalized at least some form of concealed carry,
with most allowing any citizen who qualifies
(no felony criminal record, meets a certain age requirement,
and can qualify with a firearm) can get a permit.”
– conceal carry.org
Those who are not quick to believe that “more guns means more safety” are being backed up against a wall where the foolishly simple solution of more guns is increasingly becoming gospel truth. I use that word gospel quite seriously. The brilliant Gary Laderman article “Hate the Sinner, Love the Gun” proposes that America’s love of their guns is more than even culture… it is religion… and “the gun is the religious object par excellence”. While the article will probably provoke some readers by its boldness it does do the essential task of translating a stale, vapid, dumbed-down debate into a deep and rich new terrain.
This is the intention of the upcoming 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry, to engage with the violence in our culture in a multi-faceted, multi-leveled manner that doesn’t ignore the complexity of social realities. We not only believe that the problems we face are complex but that the gospel of Jesus can challenge, heal, and redeem these complexities. Even as we await with Eschatological hope the coming reign of the Prince of Peace we strive to reawaken and re-emphasis the peacemaking that is inherent in the Way of Jesus in every good day given to us.
One good piece that has helped give depth and breadth to my wrestling with issues of handgun-control is the two WBEZ produced shorts on the history/evolution of Chicago’s handgun ban. As well as being incredibly informative, the presentation is remarkably even-handed. Wherever you stand on issues of handgun-control I am sure you will appreciate the complexity they engage because, as I recently overheard at lunch in a busy restaurant, “Wherever there is a large complex problem there is a short simple solution… that is wrong”.
Oh, and seriously, read that Laderman article!