Mercy Hospital Reveals A Broader Issue With Gun Violence

Mercy Hospital Reveals A Broader Issue With Gun Violence

The debate can go on about gun control, but Mercy Hospital shows us the social dynamics of why shootings happen.


When I previously said that mass shootings seemed to become the norm in American society, I was wrong. They haven't seemed to be the norm. They have. Lately, it's easy to brush off the latest massacre that dominates the headlines. All until it hits close to home.

Just before Thanksgiving, on November 19, 2018, a gunman opened fire at Mercy Hospital on Chicago's South Side, killing 3 people. A police officer, doctor, and pharmacy assistant whose lives have been cut short, serving the city of Chicago, doing their jobs. All three individuals seemed to be great people. Officer Samuel Jimenez hailed from my native Edison Park neighborhood in Chicago. Dr. Tamara O'Neal became a doctor to save the lives of those on the South Side. Dayna Less was a pharmacist that just graduated from Purdue in May.

But what makes the incident at Mercy stand out from other shootings is that the gunman was the ex-fiance of O'Neal. Before pulling the trigger, Juan Lopez confronted O'Neal in the parking lot demanding the engagement ring back. Lopez had a history of violence against women, and was discharged from the Chicago Fire Department academy for being too aggressive.

And thus, the incident at Mercy Hospital should be a call for a better investment in mental health and domestic violence resources, plus expanding the narrative on undoing toxic masculinity.

Mercy has been the first shooting in recent months that has explicitly shown the dangers of saying "no" in abusive relationships. We often ask, "If it's so abusive and toxic, then why don't they just leave?" This incident tells us why, and obligates us to do what we can do to have more candid conversations when it comes to domestic violence.

But yet, Juan Lopez isn't the first mass assailant to have abusive tendencies. Take Elliot Rodger, who in 2014 killed 6 people in California because he thought he was deprived of his supposed right to have sex. Omar Mateen, the shooter of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, had a history of abusing his ex-wife and reportedly had a vendetta against the LGBTQ community out of fear he had HIV. More recently, two women were killed in a yoga studio by a man, Scott Beierle, who had a long digital footprint of misogyny and racism.

And thus, it leaves the question: how does this conversation fit in the scope of gun violence? Well, for one federal law only prohibits domestic offenders against spouses from owning a gun. This regulation should extend to relationships outside of marriage. More can also be done as to regulate the sales of firearms by unlicensed vendors, also known as the "gun show loophole". States can also take initiative and implement similar federal regulations too.

But to the point of this article, it's also important to know that policy alone cannot stop social behaviors. The dialogue must be expanded to the younger generations to check the toxic masculinity that caused the Mercy shooting and the massacres before it. Officer Jimenez, Dr. O'Neal, and Ms. Less did not go to work today thinking they would die. If we keep ignoring the underlying causes of gun violence beyond the issue of guns, then we leave ourselves vulnerable to more unpredictable massacres.

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I'm An Education Major Because I Know Firsthand That Teachers Can Make All The Difference In The World

"You're my teacher, but I need you to be so much more than that."


This is my third semester student teaching in an elementary school classroom.

It has been an absolute honor and joy to work with elementary age students. They are so full of excitement, energy, curiosity, and ambition. It's such a breath of fresh air to be around these children and help them learn, grow, and develop into who they will eventually become one day. Going into this experience, I knew that I was going to be making a difference.... but I didn't know how much of an impact I would make on some of my students.

Growing up, I was very fortunate, loved, and cared for. I never had to wonder where my next meal was coming from or when I would see my parents again.

Unfortunately, this is not the reality that a lot of my students live in. They live in my nightmare.

There have been several times that I have arrived to my school to see a child crying, absent from school, or secluding themselves. My first semester student teaching, I didn't think much of this. It's not abnormal for children to cry over spilled milk or to seclude themselves from their friends because they've had a fight.

These inferences were far from the truth. These children are living a life that I could not even begin to understand.

At the beginning of this semester, I had a student say to me: "You're my teacher, but I need you to be so much more than that." When this student said this to me, I said yes of course and that I'll do everything to help her. Little did I know, there was so much I didn't understand in that one sentence. After a few weeks, I learned that this little girl was being raised by her elderly grandmother because her father had committed suicide and her mother was so high on drugs that she couldn't even take care of herself and was in and out of jail.

Wow. No child deserves to start their life off this way or live this way. What can I do? How can I help? How can I make a difference?

Being a teacher is so much more than just teaching students how to add/subtract, read, or complete a science project. You're teaching children to someday become young, knowledgable, and responsible adults. But how can we do this if they don't even have responsible adult figures in their life at home? It's so important to be more than just this child's teacher. If you gain their respect and trust, you can make all the difference in their life.

This student and I had created a bond. For some reason unknown to me, she gravitated towards me as soon as I stepped in the classroom. The first few weeks we made small talk, but in recent weeks, she has told me that she feels alone. She feels unloved. She feels responsible for her dad's death and her mom's pain.

Talk about having your heart ripped out of your chest.

I hid my tears. I didn't dare cry in front of her. I stayed strong. I want to be a rock in her life. I want to remain stable and help her through her pain. I want to make school an enjoyable and safe environment for her. I want to see her succeed. I want to see her make meaningful and great friends. I want to see her blossom and overcome the struggles that she has endured in her short ten years of life. Being a teacher is such a wonderful experience, but it definitely is trying and hard. When you see a child, treat them like the beautiful souls that they are. You may not have a single clue in this world what they're going through at home.

They may be stronger and more mature than you are as an adult. Be kind. Love one another. Make a difference.


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To The Generation That Might Not Care, A Green New Deal Is Crucial

Take care of our planet and our future.


The reality of climate change and method to address the issue has been a source of contention in the United States for far too long. While Republicans trail behind Democrats a great deal in the percentage who believe long-term, irreversible climate change is a real problem, an equally if not more important gap to acknowledge is that between generations.

A universally taught science concept in elementary school is the difference between weather and climate. Weather is the day-to-day condition of the atmosphere — rainy, sunny, etc. Climate is the weather of a particular geographic location over a long period of time. The weather in an area may be snowy on a particular January day but might overall have a warm climate (Trump has yet to learn this concept).

The gap between generational support for not only believing in the reality of climate change but if the government should take steps to prevent further harm on our planet is apparent. A few reasons that older generations may not support aggressive climate change policies are that many are not going to see the lasting impact of their harmful actions, may not want to acknowledge that their way of life for a majority of their life was detrimental to the environment, or that they simply do not think it is the government's role to further regulate current practices and lifestyles in the name of the environment (an argument supported by many conservatives).

Data For Progress

The "Green New Deal," proposed earlier this month by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward Markey is mainly a list of ideas and goals rather than a carefully laid-out plan, though aims to eliminate greenhouse emissions through the creation of millions of jobs in the renewable energy industry, moving toward public ownership (a major source of disagreement among Republicans and Democrats), and much more. This plan is a comprehensive overview of many sources of environmental degradation that our nation has not addressed, despite the majority of the nation believing the climate change is a real issue.

There will undoubtedly be a major shift in the operations of many companies due to aggressive climate change policies, which could have been avoided at a drastic level if our nation had chosen to make climate change prevention a priority. Unfortunately, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures will rise to an irreversible level in 12 years if the United States and other countries that greatly contribute to rising temperatures do not take action. A sense of urgency has been lacking for far too long is crucial.

Written into the recently proposed Green New Deal is a section detailing how it will attempt to remedy the inequality of those most directly impacted by climate change. Vulnerable communities, particularly communities of color, are not seeing an equitable distribution in disaster funding to prevent damage inflicted by the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters that have resulted as an increase in rising global temperatures — Which, regardless of your age, should be a glaring flaw in our current system.

I personally doubt that the entirety of the recently proposed Green New Deal will be enacted, however, I believe that anyone who values the quality of human life, clean air, clean water, food sources, for not just those in the United States, but around the world, should be supportive of a Green New Deal.

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