In Lockdown on Independence Day: The Mass Shooting in Highland Park on July 4th by Elisa Schmitz
To date in 2022 alone, there have already been more than 300 mass shootings in the United States. The latest mass shooting in our country happened just a few miles away. Because the shooter was still at large, we spent Independence Day in lockdown, where I sat in shock trying to find words to express that which should not have to be expressed.
From a rooftop overlooking the beautiful parade route in downtown Highland Park, Ill., a gunman opened fire on happy parade marchers and spectators, which included first responders. With a high-powered rifle, the shooter took aim and shot at families, children, the elderly – methodically and intentionally trying to kill as many as possible – with absolutely no regard for human life. So far, six are dead and dozens were transported to area hospitals to be treated for serious injuries and gunshot wounds.
A "person of interest" was taken into custody without incident, just a few miles from the parade route. Robert "Bobby" E. Crimo III, age 21, is a Highland Park native, and Mayor Nancy Rotering said she was his Cub Scout leader. Mayor Rotering also said the high-powered rifle used in the massacre was legally obtained.
On the same weekend in Copenhagen, another mass shooting took place. However, in Denmark, the last mass shooting was in 2015. The difference? Gun violence is rare in that country because Denmark has some of the most restrictive gun laws in Europe.
My paternal grandparents were from Old World Europe and they hunted wild game to put food on the table. I grew up around their rifles and shotguns, surrounded by their hunting trophies and eating the food my grandmother prepared from what they shot. So I understand the right to bear arms and the lawful use of guns when needed.
But as J.B. Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, said in Highland Park: "Our founders carried muskets, not assault weapons. And I don’t think a single one of them would have said you have a constitutional right to an assault weapon with a high capacity magazine – or that that is more important than the right of the people who attended this parade today to live."
It's time to recognize that guns are out of control in our country – especially the use of high-powered weapons designed to kill soldiers in battle, not hunt wild game so you can feed a family – and we need to protect our children, elderly, first responders and everyone at risk from senseless acts of gun violence. What unites us is so much greater than what divides us.
I am grateful that our lawmakers came together to craft bipartisan gun safety legislation, and that President Biden signed into law the first major gun safety legislation passed by Congress in nearly 30 years. But let's keep working, and voting, to make things even safer. Clearly, we have a long way to go.
At 30Seconds, our library of content devoted to mass shootings and gun violence continues to grow, which is heartbreaking. We grieve for every loss, and for every time we have to share more content to help people through the trauma caused by devastating violence like this.
Today, we grieve for and stand with Highland Park, for those who lost their lives and for the families forever shattered because of the events on the 4th of July. I am grateful for the first responders and front-line workers who dropped everything to help and be there for those in need on a holiday, including some of my own physicians.
I have so much outrage, so much heartbreak, and no more words except these: please love each other, look out for each other, and please vote to help stop the madness that has overtaken our country. Thank you and God bless you all.
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