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The shots were fired only a day after a glowing Wall Street Journal report on the city hit the internet.

Some 24 hours after the storied newspaper's report talked about how Chattanooga had bucked a United States trend on declining population among cities our size, about the city's vaunted internet speeds and about the city benefiting from the tech trend, six teenagers were shot between Cherry and Walnut streets, near the Walnut Street Bridge and only blocks from the Tennessee Aquarium.

The incident — which also made national news — followed a series of shootings in October in which four were shot and three died, and a mass shooting in September that left two dead and five people (including a 14-year-old) injured.

But none of that was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal.

"Weirdly, the pandemic had this silver lining for us," Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, who was photographed in the Journal's newsroom, said in the article. "The city kind of fell upwards."

The article said the mayor credited the city's high quality of life as one of its attributes.

It is the violence that was not mentioned, though, that is holding the city back.

In recent years, the city has been ranked the top "work from home" city, the most Bible-minded city, the most church-going city, second for entry level job hiring, as a top 10 commercial real estate market, 18th in a list of best places to get married, 19th among super cool U.S. cities, 25th on a New York Times list of places to visit and in the top 100 of best places to live in America, best cities to retire in America, cities with the lowest cost of living in America and the best cities for outdoor activity in America.

But a list just out Tuesday offered a contrast.

A WalletHub report about health and safety of U.S. cities ranked Chattanooga the seventh worst in the country. Although the ranking incorporated more than crime, it listed the city as the fifth worst for property crime rate per capita and 14th worst for violent crime.

It's not the first time the city has made troublesome lists, either.

In 2021, Chattanooga was listed as one of the top 50 most dangerous U.S. metro areas, in 2021 as sixth out of seven Tennessee cities in terms of safety and in 2020 as the 20th most dangerous city in America.

Kelly, in a news conference discussing the latest gun violence, seemed to understand that the incident likely was not perpetrated by an individual or individuals using a gun or guns they purchased legally through a federally licensed gun dealer.

"I can't say this clearly enough," he said. "Easy access to illegal guns is killing kids, and our community has a responsibility to put a stop to it."

Yet, Kelly was quick to say he supported the call from some mayors across the country calling for more gun control measures such as background checks, red flag laws and raising the age limit so that teens can't purchase assault rivals.

Those are sensible measures, indeed, but they curb activity by legal gun users, who are responsible for only a small amount of the country's gun crime, according to experts. They do little to hinder those who shoot with illegal guns.

Councilman Chip Henderson, following Tuesday's city council meeting, seemed to get at the more salient point.

"What we're missing is the headlines that say we've got 15-year-olds running around downtown with firearms," he said. "It's not like we need another gun law to address the fact that they shouldn't be having them, it's the fact that these kids, these children, are downtown at 11 o'clock at night with firearms. That's what we've got to address. That's a home situation."

Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod said the situation was not likely to improve, either, with the hiring of a director of gun violence prevention and public safety, which a Kelly administration official said would be in the fiscal 2023 budget.

"We need more than somebody pulling up in a suit," she said. "We're not doing it right."

What would doing it right look like?

Jay Ambrose, a syndicated columnist, said it this way in a commentary on this page last week: "[T]he final answer, which could take a long, long time, is pretty much up to nearly all of us — helping to rebuild the family in this country, fighting for growth in goodness and love, restoring certain old norms and getting off the path to civilization destruction."

We can talk about gun control laws and throwing more money here and there for safety directors and special programs for youth, but the root problem of children having access to guns, children leaving the house with guns, children being on the street late at night and children indiscriminately shooting guns is found at home.

When or if we can change the trajectory there, the Wall Street Journal will be able to talk not only about the city's business prospects but also about how it turned around its violence problem.

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