The violence in Chicago over Independence Day weekend may not have been quite as bad as the massacre that John wrote about two weeks ago, but it was still pretty awful. There were crowds of people out and about in the Windy City, but not all of them were looking to celebrate our nation’s independence. By the middle of the day on Sunday, the Associated Press reported that there were “at least” 13 people killed and nearly 60 more shot around the city. And as it turns out, the AP was lowballing the figures.
At least 13 people, including a 7-year-old girl at a family party and a teenage boy, were killed in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend, police said. At least 59 others were shot and wounded.
In one shooting, just before midnight Saturday, four males opened fire on a large gathering in the street in the Englewood neighborhood, police spokesman Tom Ahern said. Two males died at the scene and two more, including a 14-year-old boy, died at a hospital, Ahern said.
Four others were injured; one was in critical condition and the other three were in fair condition, Ahern said. The four attackers fled the scene. No one was arrested.
As I mentioned above, those turned out to be preliminary figures. NBC News puts the total at 16 dead and 69 wounded. Just to put this in perspective, the number of casualties among American or pro-government forces in Afghanistan over the same period was four dead and twelve wounded. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.
The death of a seven-year-old girl on the sidewalk in front of her grandmother’s house was apparently what it took for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to put her foot down and speak out. So what did she blame all of this violence on? If you guessed “guns,” give yourself a cookie.
“Tonight, a 7-year-old girl in Austin joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Twitter late Saturday.
The mayor added: “As a city, we must wrap our arms around our youth so they understand there’s a future for them that isn’t wrapped up in gun violence.”
While firearms – particularly handguns – are the tool of choice in these attacks, the guns aren’t the problem. What Chicago is currently experiencing isn’t an epidemic of legally owned firearms. They definitely do have a problem with too many illegal guns in the hands of felons, but the underlying driver of this is something else. All of this mayhem has little or nothing to do with George Floyd protests, the pandemic or its resultant economic adversity. This is the same gang violence that Chicago is all too familiar with.
It’s worth pointing out that during a recent “private” call between Lightfoot and all of the city’s councilmembers, Alderman Raymond Lopez complained that he has “gang-bangers with AK-47s walking around right now looking for some payback.” The City Council saw this coming and has largely sat on its hands as the death toll increases week after week.
The fact is that the Chicago PD, while taking the blame for much of the city’s woes from the Mayor, is so busy trying to keep the rioting and looting under control that there are large portions of the city not seeing enough police coverage. The gangs are taking advantage of this situation and any progress made in tamping down gang violence in the past couple of years is being lost. The least effective thing I could imagine for the municipal government of Chicago to be doing right now would be calling for another round of gun control laws to be passed. The city already has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country but, mysteriously enough, the gang members don’t appear to be following those laws. (Go figure.)
If Mayor Lori Lightfoot can’t find a way to restore order in the streets and protect the lawful residents of her city, the voters there need to replace her and find someone else who will. You are currently less likely to be killed patrolling the streets of Kabul than you are while going out for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk on Chicago’s south side. That’s unacceptable and the residents of the city deserve better.