Chicago, with its stricter-than-strict gun control laws, just finished the most murderous year in two decades.
The final tally for Chicago (possibly subject to minor change)? In 2016 there were 4,378 shootings, resulting in 3,665 injuries and 713 murders.
All told, 795 people were murdered in Chicago, which means the 713 shooting fatalities comprise 90% of that total.
But…but…the gun laws are supposed to fix this problem.
I’ll ask again, as I have asked over and over in this blog: what possible effect can ever-stricter gun control laws make, if the vast majority of fatal and non-fatal shootings occur with guns that are neither obtained nor used legally?
When will Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, and the rest of Chicago’s powers that be, do something about this, besides enacting additional gun control laws that give legislators a way to only pretend they’re addressing the problem?
Well, with Superintendent Johnson in charge, we may FINALLY be seeing something approaching a realistic view of the situation.
Excerpted from Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas and Tony Briscoe’s article in the Chicago Tribune (please pay special attention to the part I’ve put in bold print):
At a news conference at police headquarters, Superintendent Eddie Johnson lamented the gun violence that ensnared the city’s West and South sides, casting much of the blame on “anti-police sentiment,” and the judicial system’s lax sentencing guidelines for repeat gun offenders.
“In many instances, the individuals who chose to pull the trigger are repeat gun offenders emboldened by the national climate against law enforcement and willing to test the limits of our criminal justice system,” Johnson said. “… These emboldened criminals are responsible for destroying families and communities as well as dozens of attacks on Chicago police officers in 2016.”
Johnson attempted to snuff out the notion that the skyrocketing violence could be attributed to a lack of effort by police, citing a 10 percent increase in gun-related arrests and 20 percent more gun recoveries in 2016.
“I still get on the street quite a bit, I’ll still talk to gang members,” Johnson said. “Almost every one I talk to will say, ‘I knew it was wrong. But I still chose to do it.’ The mentality that you’d rather CPD to catch you with a gun than your rival to catch you without it, that’s Bizarro World. It shouldn’t be like that. We should have a culture where everyone is accountable.”
Amid all the standard-issue blather you just read, one point stands out: the penalties for illegal gun owners being caught on the street with their weapons are woefully inadequate.
If Chicago wants to make stricter laws that actually do something about gun violence, that is where the effort should be centered. Make it worth an illegal gun owner’s while NOT to carry that gun on the street, and you’ve done something.
Being understanding, and providing benevolent, well-meaning youth programs are fine. Even imperative. But one look at the statistics noted at the beginning of this blog, coupled with knowledge of where the shootings are taking place and who is primarily being shot, tells any reasonable person that they are not going to stop the carnage.
What should be done?
Mandatory sentences for possession, regardless of whether a crime is being committed at the time, would be a significant start – along with a justice system that goes dead-on after the gangs which destroy mostly Black neighborhoods and jeopardize innocent Black people every second of every day.
How about that, Mr. Mayor? Mr. Superintendent?