Editorial: Stay vigilant in war against gun violence
The Daily Illini’s longform team published a story Thursday about Robbie Shepard, an innocent bystander whose arm was injured in the crossfire of the campus shooting in September.
The Daily Illini Editorial Board wrote numerous editorials following the Sept. 25, 2016, shooting, each of which revolved around the idea that something needed to change to reduce the frequency of similar horrifying moments of violence across the nation.
But as readers will notice in “Not A Statistic,” it seems little has improved since that night. Shepard was gracious enough to talk to our reporter, and he shared that he doesn’t think his shooting or any other will lead to significant changes.
We wish we could say that we don’t share his cynicism, but we can’t.
Despite continued gun violence, regulations have actually worsened nationally, given Wednesday’s decision to permit gun purchases for people with mental disorders. The prospect of further restrictions in the future looks bleak, given President Donald Trump’s election and the Republican Party’s devotion to the NRA.
The day after the shooting, we warned students and those in the community not to become numb to what happened here. But sadly, we believe this is exactly what’s happened: Our campus has forgotten about the shooting within just a few months, and we’ve moved on with our lives.
We don’t think people should live in fear at every second — that’s no way to live — but it’s hard to disagree with Shepard’s cynical attitude when change seems so distant.
Our longform story reveals that gun shootings in the area are down, but that doesn’t mean gun violence can be discounted. This revelation should only encourage students and community members to fight more. Shepard and several others were shot by someone who had just left jail for another crime. To Shepard, the lower statistics don’t make a difference, because they only reinforce society’s tendency to view victims of gun violence as unfeeling numbers in a larger equation of struggle.
We don’t claim to know how to solve this — few actually know. Shepard believes all guns should be taken off the street, and that’s certainly a radical thought, given our nation’s history of armed citizens.
Whether or not you agree with Shepard’s view, it should be agreed upon that limiting gun violence doesn’t involve following the status quo.
We’ve been inspired by the millions of people across the nation protesting and fighting when they see injustices of other kinds. This issue requires the same vigilance.
Protesting and fighting for what you believe is the best way to keep our community safe.
That’s how we prevent those in power from reducing Shepard, and the millions of others devastated by gun violence, to mere numbers.