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Navy Yard, Newtown, Chicago — all underscore same message: Brown

Updated: October 18, 2013 6:24AM



It’s just a coincidence Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly will be escorting a group of Chicago parents of gun violence victims to Washington on Tuesday to meet with parents of the Newtown school massacre victims — as the capital reels from the nation’s latest mass shooting.

Only in America could we have such a coincidence.

As I write this, too little is known about the shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington to be drawing any conclusions about how they fit into our ongoing national narrative on gun violence.

But we are told there are 13 dead, including the suspected gunman, and it’s not too early to say that this is yet one more reason we must find ways to stop the killing.

“I don’t think Americans realize we’re really in trouble. This is a 911 situation. We’re not going to have a future,” said Shundra Robinson of Calumet Park, whose 18-year-old son Deno Wooldridge was gunned down on his grandmother’s front porch in Auburn-Gresham on Oct. 18, 2010.

Robinson said she sees the Navy Yard killings as confirmation that she and the others need to make this trip to Washington, where Kelly hopes they can “restart the push for sensible gun laws.”

Kelly intends for the Chicago contingent, including the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, to lobby members of Congress on issues related to urban gun violence.

That will involve offering support for gun legislation proposed by Kelly, including a bill to require the surgeon general to submit an annual report on the public health effects of gun violence. The congresswoman, who campaigned on a gun control platform, also plans for them to stress the need for tougher penalties on gun traffickers and to reinstate the assault weapons ban.

Then on Wednesday the parents will hold a joint press conference at the Capitol with the Connecticut family members, where they will hope to show Americans the common threads in their heartbreak.

“This goes way beyond black-on-black crime,” said Robinson, who even before her son’s death was active in the stop-the-violence movement in Chicago’s neighborhoods through her church.

“It doesn’t matter what race you are. It doesn’t matter what class you are. We all lost our children to senseless violence,” he said.

Mostly, though, the Chicago parents will be telling their personal stories.

Robinson, 40, does not try to hide the fact that her son was likely involved in gang activity that played a role in his never-solved murder. She says she raised him in a Christian home, where he was taught the difference between right and wrong, and disciplined when he strayed.

“Children sometimes they give in to peer pressure,” said Robinson.

She knows, therefore, that the problem is more complicated than tougher gun laws. But she also wonders how the underage youths she believes killed her son were able to obtain the guns — and sees the connection to recent mass killings committed by individuals who had no business with a gun.

“I understand that they can’t just totally take away guns, but they have to do a better job of regulating them,” Robinson said. “I understand some people have to have guns, but it’s just ridiculous.”

“Something has to be done and soon,” Robinson said.

There’s no telling how the group will be received in Washington, where the shooting literally hits close to home with the installation located not far from Capitol Hill.

Congress has a short attention span when it comes to gun violence, which unfortunately, may only mirror what is happening to all of us as the killing continues. If you’re like me, you weren’t shocked by the news out of Washington on Monday morning, maybe not even particularly surprised.

“Every time there is a shooting there is a wake up call for all of us,” Kelly told me Monday. “I just want us to keep talking about it. I just want to make sure these parents voices are heard.”

Robinson’s voice may not sound like the voices from Newtown, but her message is the same.

Email: markbrown@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkBrownCST



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