Chicago doctor says hardest part of profession is telling parents 'senseless violence took their child away'
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - From the massacre at a Texas school to shootings on Chicago streets, kids are increasingly in the crosshairs.
So, Sen. Dick Durbin joined with youth groups and Chicago doctors Friday to discuss efforts to protect kids.
"Whether it's gun violence on the streets of Chicago or whether it's gun violence in Texas, we need to step up as Americans and say we can do better," said Sen. Durbin.
To partner on plans, Sen. Durbin headed to Lurie Children's Hospital. Doctors described one of the hardest parts of the job.
"That is telling a parent or caregiver that their child is not coming home to them, telling them that senseless violence took their child away, and we could not get them back," said Samaa Kemal, MD, MPH, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellow at Lurie Children’s.
"Less than two weeks ago, a 17-year-old used a gun to shoot a 16-year-old at Millennium park who later died here at Lurie Children's — despite the efforts of our emergency team to save his life. This is not a political crisis, this is a public health crisis," said Thomas Shanley, MD, President and CEO of Lurie Children’s.
These doctors say guns are now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in America, pushing ahead of car accidents.
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"Can you imagine those who wrote the Second Amendment of the Constitution envisioned that possibility? I can't," said Sen. Durbin.
So they're pushing for tighter gun laws such as federal background checks and limiting assault weapons like the one used by the Texas school shooter.
"He used an assault rifle AR-15 which is a weapon of war. It was designed to blow humans apart," said Dr. Shanley.
Sen. Durbin and the doctors are also pushing for more investment in youth programs and mental health programs.
As for gun safety laws, Durbin admits they'll be very tough to pass with Republican opposition, but he thinks America has reached a tipping point.