Gun violence debate continues after marches

Grace Zhang

In order to maintain the momentum of national movements, Illinois legislators are pushing for permanent action to restrict access to guns, while students are advocating to recognize the decades of gun violence on the South Side and to include more diverse voices in the discussions.

At the Lab Schools walkout March 2, students gathered on the Midway, receiving the attention from multiple news outlets. The walkout prompted discussion about how the Lab community is approached the issue. Some students, including junor Alexis Tyndall, said the Lab community only recently addressed gun violence because the movement was a national trend. 

“The fact that Lab has never really done anything about gun violence before especially since it’s such a problem where we live, … wasn’t adding up to me,” Alexis said.

Alexis said community members should educate each other on police brutality and other local forms of gun violence. She also believes that students should keep contacting local elected officials to make a difference in the Chicago area.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, a Democrat who represents Illinois’ 7th District which includes portions of Chicago’s south and west sides, shares Alexis’ concerns and is motivated to raise awareness about local gun violence.

For Davis, the issue of local gun violence is close to home. On Nov. 18, 2016, Rep. Davis’s grandson, Javon Wilson, then age 15, was fatally shot in a home invasion. Rep. Davis has pushed several pieces of legislation such as the Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act as well as a gun tax. The next steps, according to Rep. Davis, are to change perceptions of guns as necessary for self-protection, to improve mental health checks and to ban semiautomatic and automatic weapons.

“If we were to stop manufacturing guns in this country, I would not have a problem doing it,” Davis said. “I think that the [two] things we need to do, is strengthen our gun laws, keep teaching people the danger of guns.”

Rep. Davis encourages students and other youth to keep getting involved as much as they can by voting and participating in marches to pressure policy makers.

Junior Anna Schloerb participated in Chicago’s March for Our Lives on March 24, where she held up signs and initiated several chants and sing-alongs.

“We were really uplifted by the fact that everyone was there for the same reason,” Anna said.

According to Rep. Davis, the key is what people do after media coverage of gun violence diminishes.

“We can’t let it die down,” he said. “If we let it die down, then nothing would change.”