The Madness

Ed. note: Due to the Moms Demand Action – Advocacy Day ’23 yesterday, “What It’s Really About – Part Two” has been moved to this Sunday, May 21.

It’s been ten and a half months since the brutal July 4th mass shooting in Highland Park, IL that killed seven innocent people and wounded 48 other parade attendees. The wounded list includes 8-year-old Cooper Roberts, the kid who is now paralyzed for the rest of his life from the killer’s bullet that ripped into his back. Emotional injuries from that day were in the tens of  thousands. Many of those will never heal.

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The blood stains on the pavement are gone now, as is the mountain of flowers and candles at the makeshift memorial that was created that week. Attendees long ago picked up their lawn chairs, picnic baskets, bikes and child-sized flags that were supposed to be waved at people on the floats. The ocean of tears has been rinsed away by the rain and the snow. The intersection of Central Avenue and Second Street looks normal now and you might not guess that it was a war zone last year.

A permanent memorial will replace the temporary one next to the Library on Laurel Avenue. Right now it’s just seven posts, each with an etched placard on top bearing a picture and a few words to remember each of those killed.

The memorial is alongside a small rose garden and a rock garden. About a third of the rocks in that garden have been painted by children and they are very much like those at the bases of the seven posts – you can see them in the picture – many with heart piercing words of love and loss. The children’s offerings seem to speak for all of us, saying “We will always remember you.”

Sadly, we have two such mass shootings every 3 days in America, so it’s easy to imagine many thousands of piles of rocks painted by children all across the nation.

That vision brought me to the Moms Demand Action – Advocacy Day ’23 in the state capitol yesterday to help make a statement that We The People want sensible gun safety laws to keep these killing machines out of the hands of the angry, the crazy, the self-deluded, the falsely patriotic, the narcissisticly aggrieved, the mentally ill and the compulsively belligerent, like the  Highland Park murderer.

Hundreds of people of all ages showed up to make a statement about the need for better gun safety legislation, both in mass and in small group meetings with legislators.

Hundreds of Illinoisans showed up to demand better, even in this state with better than average gun safety legislation. The speeches were inspiring, delivering the clear and insistent message that the progress that has already been made is just the start of what needs to be done. A couple of younger people spoke to the crowd, letting us know that the people of their generation are always wondering, “Am I next?” Imagine going to school with that knot in your belly every day.

An artist turned her hand to making clear the truth of what we as a society have done. Her display has over 30,000 orange flags, each representing a child murdered by guns just since Sandy Hook. Look at the picture – what you can see is a fraction of the total display. Now imagine if each flag were instead a healthy kid.

Over 30,000 orange flags should instead be over 30,000 healthy kids living their lives.

The misled guys and the tough guys believe that the Second Amendment means everybody can own any murder weapons they want. But read that Amendment – it doesn’t say anything about a right of private citizens to own AR-15s or extended capacity magazines. In fact, it doesn’t say that anyone can own a gun for any reason other than so that we have a well-regulated militia.

And we have that. It’s called the National Guard. We don’t need private citizens to amass arsenals of weaponry in their basements. Those gun owners aren’t part of a well regulated militia. They’re just guys with guns.

There is no Second Amendment reason for anyone to do concealed carry, much less to do it without a background check and safety training. Most of our state governments, though, seem to say, “Just strap one on, Bubba, and head to the bar for some beers. What could possibly go wrong?”

Oh wait: Buffalo could go wrong and a bunch of grannies shopping for eggs and bread could be murdered. Sandy Hook could happen and the bodies of 20 little kids and seven teachers could be splattered onto the school room floor.

And Highland Park could happen, making a horror so terrible, so awful, that brave, tough cops and FBI personnel had to bury their faces in their hands.

So, I went to Springfield yesterday to tell our legislators the obvious facts of what has happened and what will continue to happen if we fail to take proper action. I went to tell them that the misled guys and the tough guys are wrong and that they themselves are a clear and present danger to our country..

I went to tell them that We The People want the madness to stop.

Charlton, can we have your gun now that there are over 31,000 cold, dead hands so far just this year?

If you weren’t at the Illinois state capitol yesterday, no worries. This battle for peace and safety isn’t over and there will be many more opportunities for you to stand up for all those people who can no longer stand up for themselves and for all of us who don’t want to be shot.

The children in Highland Park left notes on those rocks to say that we will continue to stand for our fallen. They and we will speak for them and for all those who are being gunned down right now, even as you read this.

  • Today is a good day to be the light.


  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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One Response to The Madness
  1. James Altschuler Reply

    It seems painfully obvious that those currently in office in Washington, D.C. are not doing the job required of them. Whether Republican or Democrat or independent, they’re not getting done what needs to be done.

    It says above that there are 537 days and counting down until the election next year.