Rapid bursts from a high-powered rifle brought the chilling reality that no one can be sure of being safe anywhere at one of the nation’s most unifying gatherings.
Litter strewn across the scene, a lone shoe, discarded backpacks, overturned camping chairs and empty strollers didn’t just tell the story of the precipitous panic of those who fled for their lives. It reflected yet another scene of normality shattered by a mass shooting. In this case, six people who simply went out to celebrate America’s birthday died. More than two dozen — aged 8 to 85, according to doctors — were injured.
“It is devastating that a celebration of America has been torn apart by our uniquely American plague,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said. “A day dedicated to freedom highlighted the one freedom that we as a nation refuse to defend: the freedom of our fellow citizens to live free from the daily fear of gun violence.”
Shocked residents recount a day of terror
Still, residents of the affluent, largely white suburb with a thriving Jewish community expressed shock that such horror had visited their city.
It was “simply inconceivable in a community like Highland Park,” Jeff Leon, an eyewitness who initially thought the gunshots were Fourth of July fireworks, told CNN.
Democratic Representative Brad Schneider, who represents Illinois’ 10th congressional district, expressed similar disbelief. “No one thinks this could happen in our community, but it’s true across the country,” he told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins. And Dr Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness for NorthShore University HealthSystem, told reporters: “It’s a bit surreal to have to deal with an event like this.”
Gun violence is not new to American society. But the proliferation of lethal weapons is now forcing people across the United States to confront the anxieties long endured by those who know about the horrific toll of guns in cities.
It’s not nearly as covered. But the high-profile shootings in Uvalde and Highland Park, for example, are taking place against the backdrop of relentless killings elsewhere.
And we are only in July.
gun control policy
The suspect, Robert E. Crimo III, has been taken into custody near Lake Forest, Illinois, authorities said at a brief press conference Monday night after an hours-long manhunt .
sergeant. Chris Covelli of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force said earlier in the day that the firearm used in the shooting was a “high-powered rifle” but declined to elaborate. If confirmed, it would only be the last occasion that a weapon capable of rapidly firing multiple rounds to lethal effect has been used in a mass shooting.
The July 4 holiday meant there was little immediate political reaction to Monday’s killings from Republicans, even as Democrats such as Vice President Kamala Harris and Pritzker demanded more gun restrictions.
The ongoing mass shooting rituals in the United States will likely see Republicans try to point to factors other than the availability of guns. It is true that most gun owners in America obey the law. But logic suggests that the massive proliferation of guns in the United States relative to other nations and the high incidence of mass killings are linked. And clearly more people with guns — what the National Rifle Association would call “good guys with guns” — isn’t stopping all of these killings.
Second Amendment activists insist that the right to possess high-powered weapons is part of every American’s right to bear arms. And the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court is considering easing existing gun restrictions. All of this suggests that Monday’s shooting won’t result in any action that will make America safer. The heavyweight passing even limited gun safety legislation last month suggests that a stalled political system has already done all it can bear.
Yet each recent mass shooting raises the same questions, which are particularly acute on a day when America celebrates its freedoms.
Why do the rights of those who insist that they have the constitutional blessing of possessing such lethal weapons outweigh the rights of others to life – especially since a majority of Americans support a more comprehensive gun control? And why, for example, should mums, dads, children or grandparents so often run for their lives?
“It can happen anywhere,” Miles Zaremski, who witnessed the shooting in Highland Park, told CNN Monday afternoon. “I lived many years on this planet and what I observed shook me to the core.”
“If it can happen on the 4th of July, in a peaceful, law-abiding community that we have in Highland Park…it can happen anywhere.”