Amid insistence a neighborhood is safe, gunfire breaks out

That was quite a piece of audio on NPR’s Morning Edition this morning when NPR reporter David Schaper was interviewing a woman in a South Side Chicago neighborhood about a city effort to more closely track gun sales.

Just after the woman insisted the block was safe, gunfire broke out.

If there’s a heaven, there’s a special place for neighborhood activists who fight for their neighborhood rather than flee. But the interview also shows the complicated nature of solving a neighborhood’s problem.

Asiaha Butler’s assertion that her block is safe is untrue, despite her obvious love for her area; the gunshots proved that and Schaper wasn’t doing his interview in the neighborhood because it was safe.

And yet, acknowledging the scourge of guns and gangs, while a first step in solving problem, also exacerbates it once you declare a neighborhood is unsafe because of them, giving people a reason to stop working on its behalf, and flee.

“It’s not normal,” another neighborhood leader told Schaper. “It’s too common, but it’s not normal.”

That should be good enough for a civilized society to figure out how to make it not common.

But it’s not.