Thank you, Councilman Boots, for inviting me to speak to the Council tonight. I can only offer my perspective and do not pretend to have any expertise in gun laws. But as a victim of gun violence, I do have some thoughts to share.
My son, Jack Shockley, was murdered on August 12, 2020. He was sitting in his car eating breakfast in the parking lot at the McDonald’s at 25th and Emerson at 5:00 a.m. on his way to work at the Green Bean warehouse nearby. His car was approached by another, and the man driving the car got out and shot Jack at close range. Nothing was stolen. The man who shot Jack was out on parole after multiple gun-related crimes. An eyewitness—a pregnant woman who was in the car with the shooter and gave a statement to police—was shot and killed two months later. Another witness is too fearful for his safety to agree to testify, and as a result, the charges against the man who shot our son have been dismissed, although we are still fighting for a trial. Sadly, our experience is not unique. It is all too common, resulting in violent criminals with illegal guns being back on the street.
Jack was the heart and soul of our family, his group of friends, and even his workplace. He was kind, funny, super smart, handsome, the life of the party and a prankster. But he also thoughtfully and prayerfully sought answers to life’s sufferings. He read widely and spent time each day alone, reading, praying and writing. He is irreplaceable, as are all victims of gun homicides. The survivors of gun violence, myself and my family included, suffer with injuries that never end.
Shortly after Jack died, with the help of family and friends, we created the Jack Shockley Warriors for Peace. Its mission, which reflects Jack’s love for the poor and disadvantaged, is to promote peaceful change, one life at a time. We have created a scholarship and mentorship program, and in May, awarded our first scholarship to help a young peacemaker, a graduate of Central Catholic grade school, to attend Roncalli High School. We have also given aid to families of victims of gun violence in our city. This is our response to the spike in gun violence that claimed our son. In Jack’s memory, his friends and family are committed to becoming peacemakers and doing our part to make a difference.
We have learned that everyone has a part to play to end gun violence. But for that to happen, hearts must change. What is the part that you must play as a council? I urge you to come together in a common-sense way to pass this resolution to close the loopholes in background checks. You can make progress in making sure that guns do not fall into the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. That states the obvious, but it has not been done.
You also have a role to play in the trafficking and confiscation of illegal guns. My son was killed by a young man with a long history of gun violations. Why was this dangerous man released on parole and returned to the street? I have come to realize that we need to focus on the shooters who commit these murders. To end the plea deals and the revolving doors of the justice system that allow them to claim more victims. Yes to criminal justice reform that offers drug rehab and vocational training to prisoners and supports them in living a peaceful life when they are released. No to allowing criminals who commit crimes with a gun back on the streets. Ankle bracelets do not contain dangerous criminals.
There are many parts that people must step up and play to make a difference in gun violence. Hearts must change, cultures must change. We must quit fighting each other, stop demonizing the other side, and come together. We must each do our part. With God, nothing is impossible. When we work together, when we do our part, change is possible. I ask you, council members, to come together and do your part. Precious lives are on the line. Jack’s friends and family have joined the fight to promote peace in our broken world. Please join us in our fight to promote peace and reclaim the streets of our city—one life at a time.