How bad are things in Chicago? Try bullet-proof vests for school children

One hates to overuse the phrase, but… it’s come to this.

On Thursday of last week, no less than seven people were murdered in Chicago in under twelve hours time. That’s not just unusual… it would qualify as a pretty bad day in Mosul. (Are you still in the mood to make jokes about the President referring to “American carnage” during the inauguration?) As the local CBS News outlet is reporting, some residents have had enough and are wondering where all of the protesters who complain about the police are when things like this happen.

After a violent day in the South Shore neighborhood, a longtime resident questions where the outrage from black activists is.

“I see them coming out always downtown protesting against the police. But never do I see them inside the black community,” he said.

[Activist Tio] Hardiman [of Violence Interrupters] said he wasn’t joking when he suggested that “young people in the South and West Sides of Chicago be equipped with helmets and bullet-proof vests.”

Helmets and bullet-proof vests for children. It’s something you’d expect to see in some third world nation being overrun by a warlord’s gangs, but it’s being seriously discussed in one of the largest cities in the United States. There actually is some legislation being considered to make the schools more safe from gang shootings, but unfortunately it’s not in the form of actual protective equipment. They want a law to “make bullets traceable.” It should come as no surprise that one of the guys there endorsing the idea was the CEO of a company named Ammo Coding Systems. This scheme would require ammunition manufacturers to purchase laser encoding equipment (at a cost of more than a half million dollars per machine) and pay a licensing fee for every single bullet they sell. The shell casings and bullets would then have a code on them which could supposedly be traced back to whoever purchased a given box of ammunition. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to take into account the fact that bullets deform (often massively) upon impact and even the dullest criminal may well know enough to pick up his shell casings before fleeing.

Rather than that, perhaps Mr. Hardiman’s suggestion could be moved out of the streets and into the City Council chambers. The President has offered to lend a hand to Chicago if someone could come up with an actual, productive plan. The idea of outfitting children with bullet-proof vests may seem depressing (and it certainly is) but until somebody can get the gang violence under control there may be little other choice. If Chicago can’t afford all of the gear right now, we might be able to convince even the fiscal conservatives in Congress to get behind funding this. How much could it cost?

In the meantime, Rahm Emanuel is working on a different solution. He’s busy with that “police reform” plan that Loretta Lynch cooked up. (It’s one of the ones we discussed earlier today which now may be on hold.) You know, if you’re having more than half a dozen people shot in a single day between the hours of 4 pm and midnight, and your residents are asking for protective gear normally reserved for the battlefield to put on their kids, are the cops really your biggest problem?

Just something for the mayor to consider.

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John Sexton 10:00 PM on June 02, 2023