Britton: There is more work to be done on gun violence prevention
It has been another week filled with heartache as we watched two people of color -- one only 13 years old -- die at hands of law enforcement. While I continue to believe in -- and be encouraged by -- the adoption of the NAACP and ILACP 10 Shared Principles for reform by police departments throughout the 14th District and Cook County, I am keenly aware that is only one piece of the puzzle, and that there is more work to be done.
This scenario of black and brown individuals being killed during interactions with law enforcement has been increasingly frequent, shining a harsh light on what we must no longer deny is a broken system. In a country where all are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, this use of lethal force is simply unacceptable. No life deserves to be cut short, period. And no one should ever grieve a life cut short by the hands of government-appointed, taxpayer-funded, protectors of our communities.
My heart breaks for the parents of Adam Toledo. Like so many, I am reeling over the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright and, even as we watched a legal team defend the officer who killed George Floyd, we are again confronted with baseless victim-blaming and racist dog-whistling.
At the same time, we must also reckon with our nation's obsession with guns -- that it is easier to get a gun than vote in many places in this country, that a sworn police officer was allowed to carry a deadly weapon without apparent training; that Amazon tracks its shampoo better than gun dealers track their weapons of war; that unarmed Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts; that children get their hands on deadly semi-automatic weapons with stunning regularity, and the list goes on.
This broken record must stop.
So far this month alone, there were 39 mass shootings throughout the United States -- during a house party, in a park, at a gas station, at a FedEx facility, during a vigil, at a child's birthday party, at a small business, just to name a few. The frequency with which these shootings occur has caused us all to become, sadly, numb and apathetic. No one should have to live in fear that their next outing may be their last.
As a member of the Gun Violence Prevention PAC (GPAC), I am strongly in favor of common-sense gun safety laws -- including mandatory background checks, ending same-day gun purchases, getting rid of gun show loopholes, and outlawing assault weapons. The County recently introduced a resolution declaring gun violence a public health crisis, passed a 2019 resolution supporting federal legislation that would require universal background checks for all gun sales, and recognized June as Gun Violence Awareness Month. The County is beginning to implement its $100 million Equity Fund, including anti-recidivism, violence prevention, restorative justice, youth development programming, and housing for returning citizens. And I am hosting conversations between law enforcement and community members across the County about how to make real our promise that Black Lives Matter.
Though that is, of course, not enough.
The time for thoughts and prayers has long passed, though we continue to send them to the many devastated and suffering families and friends of victims of gun violence and police brutality. It is now time for advocacy and action, to hold law enforcement accountable and to make gun lobbies responsible. We must reject that these things "just happen" and continue the work of creating a society where everyone can feel safe.
Commissioner Scott Britton
Cook County Board, 14th District