"Bail reform" once again under scrutiny in Chicago

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The murder of Chicago Police Officer Ella French last week has sparked a fresh round of debate over the city’s criminal justice policies and the future of the Chicago PD. The circumstances of how Emonte Morgan happened to be out on the street at the time and how he obtained the handgun he used to shoot two police officers during a traffic stop, one of them fatally, already had members of the police department up in arms. But now a new wrinkle in the case is causing even more consternation. The man who illegally purchased and sold the gun to Morgan has already been released on his own recognizance to await trial. And Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown is up in arms. (CBS Chicago)

“It is an outrage,” wrote Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown.

His statement was in reaction to a federal judge’s decision to release the man accused of supplying the gun that was used to fatally shoot a Chicago police officer and critically wound another over the weekend.

“When I heard this afternoon that a federal judge had released the man who illegally purchased and then supplied the gun used to murder Officer Ella French, I could not believe it,” Brown wrote in a statement Wednesday night.

This situation is pretty much adding insult to injury at this point. We previously learned that Emonte Morgan had been on probation for armed robbery earlier this year when he nearly killed a pedestrian in a hit and run incident. But rather than tossing him back in jail, he was released while awaiting a hearing over that incident. That hearing was scheduled for three days after he killed Ella French and shot her partner. He was already forbidden from owning a firearm as a convicted felon, but he purchased one illegally anyway.

And now, the guy who illegally sold him the gun has been put back out on the street also. The police have been raising complaints about how bail “reform” and other progressive changes have installed revolving doors on the courts and jails, but they get no support on these matters from the Mayor or the City Council. And all of this is taking place at the same time that Chicago is experiencing a nearly unprecedented and sustained surge in shootings and other violent crimes.

The linked CBS article goes out of its way to repeat the liberal defense of these initiatives, saying that the elimination of cash bail only applies to “low-level, nonviolent criminals.” But since when is trafficking illegal firearms to gang members considered a “low-level crime?”

It’s worth pointing out that the number of shootings in Chicago during the first six months of this year is 65% higher than the same period in 2019. That doesn’t happen by accident. We’ve seen similar spikes in New York City and other municipalities that have passed these so-called “bail reform” laws. It’s true that cities without such changes to their laws have also seen upticks in violent crimes, but it certainly looks more pronounced in the ones I just mentioned.

If you want to do away with bail for crimes like shoplifting or selling stolen goods, so be it. Plenty of that will still go on anyway, unfortunately. But too many of the wrong people are being put back out on the street these days and they are significantly contributing to these crime rates. And when I say “the wrong people,” I’m talking about those who are either committing gun crimes or trafficking in illegal weapons. If you want to do something about America’s “gun problem” you can start by locking these people up and confiscating their arms, not by further harassing law-abiding gun owners.