As a congressman, Danny Davis can debate the need for gun control from a public policy perspective.
As a grandfather, he can’t make sense of the death of his 15-year-old grandson, Javon Wilson, who was shot last month at his South Side home in a fight over clothes and gym shoes. A 16-year-old boy and 17-yearold girl have been charged with murder.
Javon, he says, had been warned not to be out on the streets at night. “Of course, here he was at home,” Davis says. “The streets kind of came to him.”
At Javon’s funeral, Davis mourned his grandson, a basketball fanatic, a lover of blues and rap, a high school student just coming into his own. But the congressman looked beyond his family’s tragedy.
“Somehow with all the technology that we have, with all the know-how ... we have not had the will to stop the flow of guns through inner-city communities,” he told mourners. “You have to ask yourself, ‘How does a 15-year-old get a gun? Who will give it to him?’”
In parts of Chicago, guns flow freely. Some blame the surge in violence on court decisions that have diluted or eliminated tough gun laws; the police superintendent wants longer prison sentences for gun-related crimes.
Davis has spoken to President Barack Obama, President-elect Donald Trump and other political leaders who have called to offer condolences and discuss ways to stem the bloodshed. He’s optimistic some good will come from it and, he says, refuses to “accept a hopeless feeling.”
Still, Davis worries the shootings will erode “the sense of positive possibility” that inspires people to dream of better days ahead. “It’s hard to make those kinds of predictions,” he says. “It’s hard for young people to even believe that they will live to be a certain age.”
And while he grieves for his grandson, Davis says he also grieves for the teens charged with the murder. “We talk a great deal about redemption in our country,” he says. “I can ask for forgiveness of these two young people. Feeling another way wouldn’t do a thing to bring Jovan back.”
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., lost his grandson. He worries the shootings will erode “the sense of positive possibility” that better days are ahead.