By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Hundreds viewed the film “Making A Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA,” late Friday night at Saint Sabina where Father Michael Pfleger said the city “is under siege” given the rise of gun violence since 1990 including 112 people who have been killed and 547 wounded so far in two-and-a-half months of 2016.
“That is a scandal, a sin and a shame to America that is going on in Chicago,” said Pfleger referring to the daily shootings and killings. “While some people are talking about a new Ferris Wheel up North or the NFL draft, we need to be talking about what is going on the South and West Sides of Chicago, people getting hurt.”
Referring to the Chicago Tribune report which talked about the dangerous South Side is creating an exodus of Blacks…there is an exodus of people leaving, Pfleger said there is an exodus of people dying.
Pfleger, who on Saturday, April 23, 2016, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is holding a gun turn-in at his church, said two years ago he talked to a NRA person who told him, “The number one consumer of guns in America” is illegal sales. “We cut out easy access to guns…. It is indeed a business, but we got to make them understand you are not going to make money off the blood of our children….”
Robert Greenwald, who produced the film, said, “The film will become a tool people can use. The film is available for free all over the country and by Labor Day it will have had a 1,000 screenings of this film in churches, schools, homes, union halls, hospitals.” He said the focus of the film will be how we can make a difference and to let people know that “the NRA and gun manufacturers are profiting off of death and destruction.”
Joining Father Pfleger in viewing the movie were U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9th), Rep. Robin Kelly (D-2nd), Illinois Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th), Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-77th), who introduced the Lethal Violence Order Of Protection bill where guns can be confiscated if people pose a threat to themselves or others, Mark Walsh, campaign director for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV) and others.
In addressing the audience, Rep. Schakowsky asked, “How many of you have been touched by gun violence”…or lost a loved one? Scores of people stood. “The NRA has made us think that they are powerful when really all they are…are the mouthpiece of the big corporations that are making millions of dollars and spending it to buy members of congress…. We can beat them. We saw last Tuesday. We just elected a new State’s Attorney because we came out to vote….
“We can win. We can address suicide,” Schakowsky said. Having seen the movie and attended so many funerals, she said, “We can do this….”
The movie showed cases of suicides, domestic violence, the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting where James Holmes killed 12 people and injured more than 70 others, Blair Holt, 16, shot in 2007 aboard a CTA bus, Terrell Bosley, 18, killed in 2006 in a church parking lot and other similar how cases.
After the movie, there was a panel discussion where Walsh called the shootings and killings “terrorism.” He said one of ICHV’s legislative priorities is a bill that would allow taking guns away from those who the courts say are risks to themselves. He is pushing to have all gun dealers licensed by the state, which is part of the proposed commonsense gun laws.
Tom Bosley, the father of Terrell Bosley, was one of the panelists. He and his wife, Pam, began helping parents who too have lost their children to gun violence. He is president of Purpose Over Pain, which is a group of parents whose children were victims of gun violence. They lobby for passage of reform gun bills and educate the community to become advocates…agents of change….
Also on the panel was Diane Boese, leader with United Power. She is working on a marketing/economic strategy because “gun manufacturers make a lot of money off of government contracts and law enforcement.
“We as purchasers of weapons ought to be able to determine how they behave. We want them to distribute safe guns, manufacture safer technology, and we want them to pull their weapons form bad dealers…and that would shut these guys down,” said Boese.
According to the ICHV, guns kill almost 1,000 Illinois residents and 30,000 individuals across this nation every year along with tens of thousands who are injured often with life-changing injuries. Since 1968, ICHV officials say more than 1 million people have been killed with guns in the U.S. and that included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
Collins called the movie “powerful” and said it is a “wake up call because most people are not aware that most people lose their lives through suicide with guns than homicide.” She felt the movie “was a little bit too long.”
Also reacting to the movie was Tom Hurley, senior project manager with the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy, said, “Anything that can bring attention to the issues that are creating the violence on the streets are important. If everybody does their part, we’ll make progress. We have to figure out how to do it together….”
When asked why can’t the Illinois lawmakers pass a commonsense gun bill, Senator Collins said it’s not that easy especially since the election of Gov. Bruce Rauner they can’t get anything passed.
“Prior to the election of 2014 when we had a governor’s race, we had a governor, Pat Quinn, who was a proponent of commonsense gun laws.” She said Rauner “did not give any details of his agenda” and when he was elected he opted to “balance the budget on the most vulnerable in society,” Collins said.
While some lawmakers tried to warn people about Rauner and urged a massive voter turnout, too many stayed home and Rauner was elected. Collins said, “We were in a crisis because we know so many of our youth are so apathetic about voting.” However, she praised them for turning out in the March 15, 2016, election resulting in the defeat of State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez who was criticized in her handling of the Laquan McDonald video.
“We would not be in this predicament we’re in now if we had voted in the last election when President Obama was leading the ticket,” Collins said. “Your local government is key because most of the money coming from the federal level filters through the state; so it is the state legislators that affect their lives on a daily basis and you feel the impact more directly.”
In explaining why they can’t pass any legislation, Collins said, “We now have a governor that would veto it. When you say we have a Democratic majority in the House and the Senate, my Democratic colleagues who are south of I-80 are proponents of guns and supportive of the NRA.
“Just because you call yourself a Democrat does not mean we all agree on issues because on gun violence we are not monolithic,” Collins said. However on the Republican side, she said they are more monolithic usually white males and conservatives.
In contrast, on the Democratic side, Collins said it is more diverse having the Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, the Suburban and Downstate Caucuses. “Everyone is representing their district. Many of my colleagues who are Democrats feel they cannot vote for commonsense gun laws because of their constituencies.
Collins said even if they were able to pass a bill, they do not have enough votes to override the governor in the house which takes 71 votes or 36 votes in the Senate. Collins said they keep putting back programs needed by their constituents but Rauner keeps vetoing their bills. “He feel it is not a priority to him and because he is the governor, he controls the Republicans lock stock and barrel.
“We used to have Republicans who were moderates, but now Rauner is using his money to intimidate Republican legislators and threatening them saying if you don’t vote the way I want you to on my agenda, I will support someone to run against you,” said Collins.
The ICHV and its network are asking lawmakers to pass a bill that would license gun dealers. The bill would require all gun dealers to obtain a state license so they can be held accountable “for adopting policies and practices proven to prevent the diversion of guns and ammunition into the illegal market.” ICHV officials feel gun dealers can reduce criminal’s access to guns, which would reduce gun violence.
Father Pfleger wants lawmakers to pass a commonsense bill that includes titling guns like cars and mandatory background checks including at gun shows where many buy unlimited number of guns with no legal accountability.