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Get Well Soon: To Brian and Everyone Else Harmed by Stupid and Impulsive Crimes

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I spent yesterday morning in meetings with epidemiologists and community groups discussing where troubled youth obtain handguns used in the many homicides that blight Chicago. The proliferation of cheap, mass produced firearms in the late 19th century remains one of the worst things ever to happen in urban America.

I came back to the office, turned on my computer, and received word that Brian Beutler, the talented journalist and blogger, has been shot and wounded in a botched mugging. He is Washington correspondent for The Media Consortium and has done fine work. I don't know Brian personally. We have some friends in common and have shared a few emails. I am gratified that he is receiving excellent support from family and friends as he makes his recovery.

Also yesterday came news that Richard Francis, a veteran decorated Chicago police officer, was shot and killed in another pointless act of violence by a disturbed woman. Officer Francis worked nights, in part so that he could care for his intellectually disabled adult stepdaughter. Regular readers know that this issue has special meaning to me. Earlier this week, our children's hospital treated a little girl who has a bullet lodged in her. She was shot in the face in the aftermath of some unfathomable quarrel between local teens. The list goes on.

Our thoughts are with each of these precious people, and with those close to them. In a different way, our thoughts also go out to the perpetrators and their families. These offenders will spend the rest of their days living with the consequences of committing an atrocity. The harm they bring to their loved ones is also profound.

I am blessed to work with talented colleagues trying to find better policies and interventions to reduce youth violence. Some of us are public health and social work professionals. Some of us are economists, sociologists, and legal scholars. We have different political views, too.

I'm convinced there is much we can do--to prevent crime, to peacefully resolve conflicts, and to keep guns out of the hands of people who would misuse them out of stupidity, greed, or a moment of madness. Aside from preventing and deterring serious crime, there is much we can do to help crime victims, many of whom require social support, rehibilitative services, and financial help--not least to pay medical bills.

We've got our work cut out for us. Get well soon, Brian. We need you back online, no doubt to critique our efforts.