CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Harsher gun laws, longer prison sentences and more police - Could that be the answer to solving Chicago’s gun violence? The issue has Chicago at the tipping point, but one South Side pastor believes he knows how to put an end to Chicago’s senseless bloodshed.
Father David Kelly leads the Precious Blood Center in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
"I heard the gun shots, and there were a lot of gun shots."
Less than two blocks away from Father Kelly’s garden, five people - including an infant – were gunned down on a Monday afternoon. He immediately did what he's done so many times before,
"I dropped what I was doing, got in the car and went to the scene."
If he makes it seem like going to a murder scene to help victims of gun violence sound routine, that's because for Father Kelly, it is just that, a routine he wants so desperately to end.
"You wonder what you can really do to make a difference."
Father Kelly believes he knows how to make that difference,
"I think certain things work, and I know things that are not working."
He says it's important to first understand why the neighborhoods are sometimes so violent.
"Our kids grow up knowing someone who has been killed. They know it's dangerous to walk from that door to that pool. You just gotta watch your back."
Father Kelly went on to say, “We have young people who feel vulnerable, who are at risk, and feel like they have nobody backing them. You mix that with availability of guns that is scary, and you have young people who feel they have to have a gun in order to survive."
So how do you break the cycle? To solve a problem that runs so deep, Father Kelly says it begins with us.
"We as adults need to communicate better that we got your back, that we do care about you."
From there, focus on employment and education.
"We are trying to make education real. We are going to ensure that this kid will go to school."
And finally - guns.
"We have to get rid of guns. You don't stop that with harsher laws, you stop that by stopping the flow and stopping the need - so that 14 year old doesn't feel like he has to carry a gun."
Father Kelly says for this to work, we must make it personal, even if we believe it's not our problem.
"That's what the Gold Coast has to realize, that's what the police have to realize, that's what the school and church have to realize. These are our kids, how would you feel if it were your kid?"
Father Kelly is not only the executive director of the Precious Blood Center, he is also the Cook County Jail and Cook County Juvenile Detention Center chaplain.