Giving voice to sorrow: Our Sounding Board reflects
The Daily Herald Editorial Board regularly seeks opinions and reflections on issues we expect to comment on from a Sounding Board we formed in January. This board is a diverse group of independent suburban voices. In the aftermath of the horrors in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, we struggled, again, to find words to respond to unspeakable crimes, so we decided to hold our own voice for a day and instead turn over the editorial space directly to the individuals on the Sounding Board. We asked each to provide in a few sentences their reactions to the murders and their ideas about solutions. Here are the thoughts of those who responded for this project, edited in some cases for space:
David Dial, of Naperville, Chair of Department of Criminal Justice at Aurora University; former Naperville police chief:
What Have We Learned?
According to the United States Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center:
• The mass shootings that have been occurring in America are not the result of a single cause or motive.
• Most (two-thirds) of the attackers had histories of mental illness, including depression, suicidal tendencies, and psychotic symptoms.
• Half of them are motivated by a grievance related to a domestic situation, workplace, or other personal issue (such as hate or ideology).
• The attacks are usually planned over a period of time and the attackers frequently elicit concern from others around them.
What Should We Do?
Preventing these attacks will take a holistic approach by elected officials, law enforcement authorities, and community members. Reporting behavioral concerns before incidents happen, securing firearms that are kept in homes, and seeking mental health treatment with a focus on early intervention can all have an impact on reducing future attacks. Perhaps, most importantly, the environment that leads some to irrational anger and warped ideology needs to be addressed by all of us.
The Rev. Nathaniel Edmond, of Lake in the Hills, Pastor of Second Baptist Church of Elgin:
My heartfelt prayers and condolences to those affected by these tragedies. As a country, we must learn to respect all. We must find a way to limit the proliferation of guns in America.
Amy Florian, of Hoffman Estates, CEO of Corgenius, instructor at Loyola University:
I believe our response has to avoid partisan finger-pointing and instead focus on a couple of key issues that everyone should be able to agree on:
1. Police shot the gunman in Dayton less than two minutes after he began firing, yet the death-and-injury toll was astonishingly high because he had an assault weapon with no hunting or self-defense purpose. Its only purpose is killing as many people as rapidly as possible. Can we finally, please, outlaw domestic ownership of these deadly weapons of war?
2. Hate, racism, and bigotry need to be condemned no matter the source or the speaker. This includes condemnation of white supremacy in words and actions. Homegrown domestic terrorism is killing more people in this country than foreign terrorists, and the threat is growing. Just as we attack ISIS, shut down their recruitment sites, and block their methods, we need to attack domestic terrorist groups promoting violence in our own country.
Grace Garlick, of Arlington Heights, Communications student and journalist at Harper College:
The most depressing thing I find about this is that my generation has become so used to hearing about shootings they don't even blink an eye anymore, some of the people I spoke with weren't even aware there was a shooting.
The second most disheartening thing I find is that some people can no longer have time to grieve about the loss of life before a wave of politics and media strikes over the issue and starts pointing fingers. A newborn baby is now an orphan because of this shooting, I can understand that mourning like this can cause people to desperately need someone to blame, as it is some form of closure. Then we have political parties who automatically use these shootings and the victims as a platform to push their views on gun control rather than focusing on the tragedy and justice.
It also frustrates me that mass shooting is not a capital crime.
Personally, I believe firmly in the Second Amendment, that everyone has a right to protect themselves, and I am against strict gun control specifically on any gun bans. However, I believe we should have stricter restrictions on who can legally own a fire arm, as well as instilling a more regulating vetting process when you register for a gun.
In my opinion, it is not gun control or video games that cause mass shootings. Mass shooters cause mass shootings. Extremist, white supremacist ideology causes mass shootings. Some sort of serious mental illness pushes someone to hate that much that they feel justified enough to kill a number of innocent people.
Carole Medal, of Arlington Heights, Executive director of the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin:
This is another issue in our country that has been allowed to fester and go on for way too long with little action being taken to help prevent these tragic events.
1. I think it is mandatory that we get these people-killing assault weapons off the streets. There is NO NEED for them to used for anything but military combat.
2. Mental health funding must be put back on the books. We must go back to providing treatment centers like we once had in this country.
3. If social media companies like Facebook and Twitter can delete comments from conservatives (as they have been accused of doing), I cannot see why violent messages and chatter can't be monitored and reported. Does this fly in face of privacy? Probably, but so does having a government employee going through our personal things and doing body checks at airports. We agree to this because we want to be protected from terrorist activities. So, is monitoring social media that much different? We want to be protected from terrorists or mentally unbalanced individuals or white supremacists or whatever. Unfortunately, we will need to lose a little more of our freedoms in order to keep our citizens safe.
Vaseem Iftekhar, of Hawthorn Woods, Founder and chairman of Northern Illinois American Muslim Alliance and retired executive at Abbott Laboratories:
Easy access to semi-automatic guns combined with hate is truly a lethal combination.
The tragedy of recent killings of innocents should be a call to action to curb hatred and irresponsible political speeches that promote racial division. Negative stereotyping of people based on race, religion, color or creed is unpatriotic.
Christine Radogno, of Lemont, Retired Illinois Senate Republican Leader:
These are my thoughts, which are partial steps to a solution that may never be perfect.
1. Politicians should stop trying to score points by blaming their opponents -- fingerprinting and blaming is easy but impedes a real solution which will have to be bipartisan.
2. Three incremental steps on gun to start with: Universal background checks; Banning what are clearly military assault weapons; Strengthen the ability to remove guns from people exhibiting threatening behavior.
3. Address mental health issues to try to identify these clearly mentally ill individuals and stop them before they act out their delusional thinking. That effort will need to address very difficult and complex legal and practical issues.
4. The internet must be regulated with respect to sites that connect perpetrators and encourage violence.
Dr. Edgar Ramos, of Homer Glen, founder and director of Ramos and Associates Behavioral Health Clinic in Mount Prospect and Naperville:
I am disheartened and saddened by the recent events. Words cannot capture the sorrow I feel for the families. My heart goes out to them. I wish I had a solution to these devastating occurrences. Perhaps gun control can start with better understanding of who the people are who are purchasing weapons. For officers and military personnel, psychological evaluations are conducted. Would it be useful or at minimum some sense of primary intervention to have psychological evaluations prior to the purchase of weapons? Mental illness may have contributed to the actions of some of these individuals, and prior testing may offer help to some of them in need but may also potentially help prevent certain actions.
Tom Roeser, of Carpentersville, President of OTTO Engineering:
Obviously, this is a very complicated issue. It has happened in France and California, which both have extensive gun control. This indicates that calls for greater background checks (who will determine the criteria?) and banning of weapons may be overlooking a greater reason. Most of the shooters have been disconnected and young.
My granddaughter pointed out to me that this did not happen 50 years ago, and we should reflect on what has changed. Have we taken God and morality out of the schools? Have our politicians made some in society feel that their failings are others fault? Morality and discussions of right and wrong have been given way to a more tolerant society of exercising one's belief in what they think is correct.
Reflecting on society's place rather than only restrictions may be worthy of a greater discussion.