Commentary: A Chicago Teenager’s Death Is Another Call to Action

The death of an 18-year-old Chicago student by gunfire, just hours after her younger sister heard President Obama denounce gun violence, is a reminder of the need for gun control measures.

Janay McFarlane had been planning the activities surrounding her upcoming high school graduation. Instead, her family is now planning for her funeral services at the end of this week.
Once again, the nation is reminded of the horror and heartbreak of random killings by gunfire across all of America. Once again, a young life is sniffed out, a family is devastated and a community is disheartened. The question continues to be: Will the nation continue to be anesthetized to such carnage, accepting it as the status quo?
By now, the death of the 18-year-old young woman in Chicago has become well known. She was killed just hours after her younger sister attended an event where President Obama spoke against gun violence at a Chicago high school.
“Last year, there were 443 murders with a firearm in this city, and 65 of them were 18 and under,” Obama said, speaking just hours before McFarlane’s death. “That’s the equivalent of a Newtown every four months. That’s precisely why the overwhelming majority of Americans are asking for some common sense proposals to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun.”
McFarlane’s murder came just weeks after the death of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old honor student who was shot to death in a park about a mile from the Obama family home in Chicago. First Lady Michelle Obama attended her funeral in Chicago. And Hadiya’s parents, Cleopatra and Nate Pendleton, attended the president’s State of the Union speech in Washington.
Yet, one can only wonder how many more deaths, how many more Janay McFarlanes, how many more Hadiya Pendletons, how many more Sandy Hook Elementary School incidents will compel lawmakers to finally adopt what the president has rightly labeled common sense proposals for reducing the reach of gun violence.
There are still too many members of Congress who are beholden to the poisonous influence of the National Rifle Association, a demented group whose entire organizational goal is to encourage the sale of guns irrespective of the hands into which these firearms might ultimately land.
The NRA has even opposed a concept as sensible as criminal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun. So irrational is this group that they even dispute as fantasy polls that show that three-quarters of their own members support such an initiative.
Such polls, said Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, represent “nothing more than an attempt by anti-gun activists to further their long-standing political agenda.” The group — and its conservative acolytes in Congress — rejects anything and everything that would make it more difficult for people to obtain guns.
Meanwhile, the pain of gun violence continues to rip through the streets — and hearts — of America, with no end in sight, leaving families heartbroken.
To get a sense of the urgency for the country to address this issue, one need only listen to Angela Blakely, McFarlane's mother: “I felt like someone took a knife and stabbed me in my heart and took a piece of my heart that I will never, ever in my life get back."
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(Photo: Family Photo)

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