Chicago saw 504 homicides and 2,457 firearm shootings in 2012. The city made the national news during the hot summer when several young children were killed by stray gunfire. Showing a lack of understanding and clear short-sightedness, Mayor Rahm Emanuel advised local gang members to take their activity elsewhere. It appeared the mayor believed gang life can exist in a vacuum but it cannot. Gangs are part of Chicago’s inner city fabric much like firearms are part of America’s.
Pro-gun advocates have pointed at Chicago’s violent crime statistics as justification for allowing the carrying of concealed weapons. The logic is simple: if more people had guns, would-be offenders would think twice for fear of immediate, deadly retaliation. The Seventh Circuit for the United State’s Court of Appeals offered similar rhetoric in its recent decision of Moore v. Madigan.
In Moore, the court struck down the long-standing Illinois ban on concealed/carrying permits. Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, has appealed the decision, requesting the case be heard by the entire court as opposed to the three justice panel that issued the holding in Moore.
Allowing legally concealed weapons to be carried will neither reduce the number of shootings in Chicago nor reduce the homicide rate. One has to keep in mind those who are being shot and killed, as well as those doing the shootings. This largely includes two groups of people who would be unable to obtain a concealed carry permit: convicted felons and juveniles.
The reality on the street is that the carrying of concealed weapons is as normal as putting salt on popcorn. Chicago has some of the deadliest neighborhoods in the country. Chicago also has the nations worst street gang problem. Add an ample supply of cheap, easy to get handguns to street gang friction and you get what we have in Chicago: lots of killings and thousands of shootings.
Allowing the carrying of concealed weapons will, at most, make affluent residents of Chicago feel safer. After all, almost all of the street violence is isolated in poverty-stricken minority neighborhoods. However, this can often be a block-by-block phenomena. For example, there was recently a murder on the 1300 block of North Sedgwick, which is a mere two blocks west of the upper-middle class Old Town neighborhood.
The solution to Chicago’s street violence has not been uncovered because the problem is multifaceted. At the heart of the problem is a lack of conflict resolution and disrespect of human life. Outsiders, and even Chicago politicians and law enforcement, will never understand the problem until they come to understand the mindset of young minority males.
Firearms laws, be it strict and lax, have nothing to offer as a solution to this problem. The recent event in Newtown, CT made global news because no one wants to see children murdered. But children are murdered here in the streets of Chicago daily. Why are there no hearings in Washington D.C. about the gun violence in Chicago?
I think the answer is pretty obvious.