Land of the free, home of the afraid

On Dec. 14 of last year, a man shot and killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. A principal, psychologist, teachers and children are now lifeless because of one man’s selfish and senseless acts. These families couldn’t spend the holidays with their loved ones. Instead, they were planning funerals.

Unfortunately, this story is not uncommon. We’ve seen this happen with the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colo., and we see this happen in the streets of Chicago each day.

More than 500 people have lost their lives to gun violence in Chicago in 2012 alone. Chicagoans have sadly become accustomed to hearing on the news that dozens of people were shot or that their friend or relative was gunned down. How many people have to die before it becomes a national concern and not just another news story?

Our streets have become war zones and our children, my brothers and sisters, are dying.

America, what’s going on?

Schools and theaters were places where safety was not a major concern. Parents were at ease when they sent their children off to school, and it wasn’t a risk to see a midnight show.

Today, we are being forced to live in a world with fear because our communities are no longer safe havens. I wonder if we will ever get back to the days when living wasn’t scary.

Guns are continuing to claim the lives of innocent people every day, yet our laws remain the same. Gun violence will not go away overnight, but pretending that it does not exist is not a solution either.

The discussion about tackling this issue needs to start now and cannot end until our youth and our streets are protected.