Deb's Big Backyard

  Deb's Big Backyard

We Won't Stand Idly By


Photo and videos courtesy of Kevin J. McCarey


by Deb Quantock McCarey


On the day when 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins, the baby girl who was shot and killed in mid-March as she sat in a van on her Dad’s lap, was put to rest, I am still remembering what I did on St. Patrick’s Day 2013.



That’s when I sat in at Chicago Sinai Congregation and took a pledge.



Likewise, at the United Power For Action and Justice’s “Do Not Stand Idly By Assembly,” hundreds of “ecumenicals” from across Chicagoland did, too.



It was publicly acknowledged that we had gathered out of anger that as a country to protect our children, and citizenry, we are failing.



I am one of the millions of moms who is sick and tired of reading and hearing about yet another child who has been gunned down on Chicago's streets, in schools across the country, and in public spaces that should be safe to pray, to shop, or even watch a movie.



I have two sons and someday may be a grandmother, but for now am an Aunt and Great Aunt to little ones who are the future. 



I want a safer place for all of them, and all of us, to live. 



Congregating with me in that crowded synagogue were 400 or so other Christians, Muslims, Jews and individuals interested in sensible gun laws and reasonable change.


Interestingly, about a quarter of the crowd were from several houses of worship in Oak Park, my hometown.  This suburb, that borders the west side of Chicago, is a player in the genesis of United Power's organizing strategy, and here the ranks of people who are paying attention to this issue are growing.



Chatting with me was a Jewish mother and wife whose husband Lester had been shot and killed 14 years ago because he arrived to work, as he always did, on time.


It was Bonnie’s son, Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, who told that story.  One father, a girlfriend and a school principal at a violence riddled Chicago public school with emotion also told their stories, as they have been doing every day since a trigger took, or forever changed, the life of a loved one.





Then, the Rabbi, an ally of Power United, and there on behalf of Metro IAF/New Jersey Together, began laying out an action plan, one that involved changing the culture of gun manufacturers and sellers.




Being St. Patrick’s Day, politicos, public officials ranging from Gov. Pat Quinn, to Congressman Brad Schneider and Oak Park Village President, David Pope chimed in.




The groups call to action came from Oak Parker DiAne Boese of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church who herself was shot in the head at age three by another three year old, but miraculously survived.  She said she continues to live with the emotional, physical and psychological damage of that day.



“There is a 48 percent decrease in gun trafficking in states that require background checks on all handgun sales, versus those that do not,” she said.  “We understand that there are responsible gun owners.  We are not trying to abolish the second amendment.  We recognize that the causes of gun violence are complex, and not solved quickly.”


I found out that there are several active and important pieces of gun legislation United Power supports, federally, and on the state level, and I have already made a few key calls.

Soon, this movement will come to Oak Park, at 7 PM on Thursday, April 4 at Ascension Catholic Church, where they are organizing “30 meetings in 60 days” to encourage small groups of citizens to canvass the companies that make, distribute and/or sell guns. 


Ordinary people can change the culture of guns in this country.  Let’s not stand idly by and let one more child be killed.


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