Amid insistence a neighborhood is safe, gunfire breaks out

That was quite a piece of audio on NPR’s Morning Edition this morning when NPR reporter David Schaper was interviewing a woman in a South Side Chicago neighborhood about a city effort to more closely track gun sales.

Just after the woman insisted the block was safe, gunfire broke out.

  1. Listen David Schaper interview interrupted by gunfire

    May 29, 2014

If there’s a heaven, there’s a special place for neighborhood activists who fight for their neighborhood rather than flee. But the interview also shows the complicated nature of solving a neighborhood’s problem.

Asiaha Butler’s assertion that her block is safe is untrue, despite her obvious love for her area; the gunshots proved that and Schaper wasn’t doing his interview in the neighborhood because it was safe.

And yet, acknowledging the scourge of guns and gangs, while a first step in solving problem, also exacerbates it once you declare a neighborhood is unsafe because of them, giving people a reason to stop working on its behalf, and flee.

“It’s not normal,” another neighborhood leader told Schaper. “It’s too common, but it’s not normal.”

That should be good enough for a civilized society to figure out how to make it not common.

But it’s not.

  • MrE85

    The man on the street was clearly exercising his God-given rights, with a semi-automatic rifle. Don’t you know the sound of freedom when you hear it? (sarcasm)

  • Gary F

    They didn’t stop to call the police and provide a car license plate number or description of car/shooter.

    There is part of the problem.

    Do they actually think more gun control laws will make the neighborhood safer?

    • MrE85

      Yes, I think they do.
      If you have ever had gunshots ring out in your block (as they once did on mine) or had masked robbers put you up against a wall in a back storeroom (check), you’ll know that your brain doesn’t always think clearly about getting a description in such situations.
      The reporter was shocked and frozen in place…the woman thought first of protecting a child. Both are perfectly normal human reactions.

    • We don’t know that at all.

      But, yep, there we are, jumping right to the gun control debate.

      • MrE85

        Come on in, the water’s fine.

        • I turn 60 this weekend and in recent years am coming face to face with mortality. It’s actually quite liberating because I can ignore the endless and predictable debates that go nowhere and try to find more interesting things to look at in the day’s news.

          But I know these sorts of typical “heard it a thousand times” debates are what constitutes many people’s lives.

          • MrE85

            I’m not far behind you, brother, at least in birthdays. I’m putting that face to face with mortality off for just a little longer. Not to worry, he knows where to find me.

          • Gary F

            Just like another pro gun control story on NPR without any pro second amendment argument.

            Heard them a thousand times…………….

          • tboom

            Bob, I’m your age and having similar thought facing the future. I’m extremely concerned about what we leave the next generations. The debates seem endless, but they are still worth having. You spend three-quarters of a lifetime thinking this county is too racist to accept an African-American president, then one day you wake up pleasantly surprised.

            You have to admit this post begs for gun debate response (what with guns being used in a gang style shooting).

            Richard Martinez was talking about mass shootings, but it applies to gang style shootings too; “Any of us who grew up in the 1940s, 50s or 60s know that life doesn’t have to be like this so why should it be like this for you people who are young now? It is just intolerable.” “It’s almost become a normal thing for us to accept… It’s not normal. Life doesn’t have to be like this.”

          • I think issues are worth solving. I don’t think they’re going to get solved by trying to convince anyone online to change their minds in the way it’s been attempted on social media for 20 years. I don’t have that much time left and there are other ways to change things.

            Having the same fights on social media that we had yesterday aren’t going to cut it. They were never effective; they’re not effective now.

            That’s not to say problems can’t be solved. We know they can be. But I like my method better. Approach from a different view — get people thinking differently. Don’t allow the same old arguments to derail conversations and hijack threads.

            Also, I think the country has shown it’s still too racist to accept an African American president. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be one, of course. But racism is very much at the heart of much of American politics and debate.

          • tboom

            Okay, I should have used the word elect, not accept. Although, how many presidents are accepted in their sixth year?

            So how do you get people to think differently without having debates? How do you stay away from gun control when your specific example is a story with a shoot-out at its very core?

          • I would ask people to analyze what is at the very core of the post? With any problem, I would ask what it is we agree on for basic principles on a problem. We want to race ahead to methods and solutions so we mostly talk past each other from our respective corners.

          • jon

            You mean in a place where Albert Einstein is attributed quotes about bees, and we struggle to convince folks that Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicists not an entomologist, we can’t change much more deeply held convictions that aren’t clear cut facts.


            Though we can provide additional information, and encourage others to think beyond what they have chosen to think of so far… it’s a long and painful way of social change, but when has any kind of social change ever been easy? The internet has made many things more efficient and faster, including how quickly we retreat to our own corners, social change is still hard, and still requires people willing to argue even when it appears that it won’t change anything.

          • I think the minds to be changed and the discussions to be had that can be productive, are not going to be online. For the purposes of this particular discussion, online has proven its uselessness and people are kidding themselves. The time that is being wasted could be put to much better and productive use.

          • badphairy

            “racism is very much at the heart of much of American politics and debate”

            I applaud you sir, for saying that out loud. (very much enjoyed your work here since ’92)

      • John O.

        So is the trolling….

  • Gary F
    • Joe

      I heard once that more people tend to live in cities than in rural areas

      • Gary F

        So the bad people are moving to the city where there are more gun free zones aka easier targets?

        • X.A. Smith

          Yeah, I’ve been on the Bad People Websites, and it seems like all they ever talk about is moving back in to the city! The rent on hideouts is skyrocketing. But they figure, what with all those sitting ducks, it’s worth it, financially. And there’s more access to the Arts.

    • jon

      You imply causality between strong gun control and violent gun crime…
      Seems reasonable, though I think you are getting it backwards.

      Why wouldn’t a city that has high gun crimes put into place stronger gun control laws?
      If I live in a city with no gun crime, why would the city spend any time putting gun control laws into place?