Last Friday afternoon, driving my kids to countless errands around town, I felt the dreaded "3:30 p.m. drag." If you’re an adult, you know the feeling all too well. I knew a cold, caffeinated drink would wake me up.
I aimed my car toward the McDonald's drive-thru on Dempster, but traffic was annoyingly backed up. Flashing emergency lights near the corner of Dodge and Dempster .
As my daughter and I neared the intersection, it was apparent that my icy Diet Coke wouldn’t come from McDonald’s: yellow tape was wrapped around the parking lot; police cars and unmarked vehicles blocked every entrance and exit; a helicopter hovered above the snarled traffic.
As the gaping traffic crawled past McDonald’s, we could see police officers inside the restaurant, walking around slowly with gloved hands and clipboards.
The visions I’d had of my icy soda were replaced with images of the Brown’s Chicken massacre. What the hell just happened here?
I drove to the Burger King drive-thru and asked the cashier what had happened at McDonald’s.
“Someone got shot,” she said, matter-of-factly. She passed me my change and my drink, then said into her headset, “Welcome to Burger King. May I take your order?”
Pulling away from the window, my daughter whispered, “I can’t believe someone got shot at our McDonald’s,” and that summed it up for me.
This is our town. Our home. Our refuge. Our harbor. Why are guns in the hands of residents – and even worse, in the hands of (alleged) minors – in our supposed safe haven?
I don’t pretend to understand the politics of gun control or the details of gun violence in the U.S. I know about The U.S. Constitution and The Bill of Rights, the latter of which states (in the 2nd Ammendment): A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
In 1791, the need to defend ourselves was vastly different than it is today. What a difference a day makes…or 220 years.
I don’t know what sort of confrontation occurred inside our McDonald’s, but I’m certain it would have ended with less devastation if the gun was pulled out of the mix. Perhaps tempers flared, or injustice was felt…but matters only worsened with the inclusion of a handgun.
Will Evanston accept Friday’s incident as just another one of countless shootings in or around McDonald’s restaurants, such as in:
Let’s not blame factions of Evanston’s society for this (or any) shootings. This isn’t just about gangs, or drugs, or Republicans vs. Democrats, or blacks vs. whites, or kids not knowing any better.
It’s about guns.
I believe this is a moment in Evanston’s history where all of us need to decide, as a community, what to do about guns…then work together to see our plan through.
Even if you don't go to McDonald's...or don't know the individuals involved in the shooting...or believe in gun control: This, unfortunately, is everyone's problem.