Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, had an odd explanation for the gun violence gripping the city Sunday, suggesting that lax gun laws and coronavirus-related lockdowns were largely to blame for the spike in shootings, which has left at least four children dead and dozens of Chicago residents wounded.
Speaking to a press conference, Lightfoot said the violence problem is “complicated,” according to the Washington Examiner.
“That’s a complicated question,” Lightfoot told media. “We have way too many guns on the streets.”
“Lightfoot also suggested that the coronavirus shutdowns that kept people inside for months played a role in creating a ‘perfect storm’ while also pointing out the death of George Floyd as an event that sparked anger in the community,” the Examiner reported.
That “perfect storm” is responsible for a nearly record-breaking streak of violence in the city. As of late June, “329 people have been killed in Chicago, an increase of about 34% from the 246 homicides during the same period last year, according to police. Shootings in that period rose by about 42%, from 978 in 2019 to 1,384 in 2020,” NBC Chicago reports. Crime, overall, is down by 9%.
There have been only five days in July, but already this month 84 people have been shot and wounded in the city, and 18 have been shot and killed. In just the last three weeks, several children have been murdered by gun violence, one as young as a year old.
Although the Chicago city government pledged to put 1,200 additional officers on the streets through the Fourth of July holiday, at least 16 people were killed – including a 7-year-old girl who was celebrating the holiday at her grandmother’s house on the city’s south side – and 63 were wounded. Two incidents of gun violence had more than eight victims, making them “mass shootings.”
Lightfoot responded to the weekend’s violence on social media.
“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,” she tweeted Sunday. “We cannot grow numb to this. We are making progress in slowing shootings, but we have to do better, every single one of us.”
Chicago residents are not strictly prohibited from owning guns, but Illinois requires each gun owner to submit to an intensive background check and obtain a Firearm Owners Identification (or FOID) card before purchasing their first gun. The state prohibits open carry (and concealed carry, in many circumstances), and there are tight restrictions on gun sales in the city.
Neighboring states, like Indiana and Wisconsin, have looser gun laws, and authorities are typically quick to blame a lack of federal oversight in weapons trafficking for the continued gun violence problem inside the city of Chicago. Part of the issue may also lie with the Cook County States Attorney, Kim Foxx, whose “bail reform” program has seen violent offenders returned to the streets quickly, often in as little as 24 hours after being arrested, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Author: Emily Zanotti