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While being driven around recently in the gun-control utopia of Chicago, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) claimed the driver of a car next to his leaned out the window and shot a gun into the air. “He could have just as easily been shooting the gun at us!” said the senator, possibly rattled by the reality gap between the “A minus” rating Illinois has for its strict gun laws from anti-gun group Giffords, and the impact those laws appear to have on criminal behavior.
A year ago, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced an ambitious new “Our City, Our Safety” plan. This “comprehensive violence reduction plan” was based on expanding access to jobs and housing, revitalizing neighborhood economies, increasing “police legitimacy,” and facilitating coordination between city and private agencies within the 15 most violent communities in the city. A preliminary analysis of these neighborhoods by the Chicago Sun-Times reveals that many of these areas have since become even more dangerous – nine had higher rates of “homicides by shooting” than in 2020 (one was “similar to” 2020); eight areas had higher homicide rates (one was “similar to” 2020); and only three experienced lower “shooting” rates than they did in 2020.
Approaching the violent crime problem from another angle, last month Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) launched “Safe Chicago,” a new program in partnership with the city’s police and fire departments. It calls for the installation of hundreds of “bleeding control kits” throughout public buildings, including City Hall, Chicago Public Library locations, and the Chicago Cultural Center. According to the announcement, the objective is to enable ordinary citizens to treat “life threatening bleeding emergencies” resulting from “falls, penetrating injuries, gunshot wounds and more” pending the arrival of first responders. Each kit consists of “a tourniquet, gauze, shears, gloves and an instruction manual to be used in an emergency” involving up to eight victims.
Speaking about the program, Rich Guidice, the OEMC Executive Director, was quoted as saying that, “we’re doing our best to adapt to the environment that we’re living in.”
That environment, it seems, is one of rising criminality.
Chicago Police Department (CPD) crime statistics posted for the week of September 27 to October 3 indicate that incidents of all eight listed crimes showed significant increases in 2021 as compared to the same week in 2020. Reported murders rose by 29%, robberies increased by 36%, and criminal sexual assaults jumped a staggering 53%. And ordinary citizens are not the only ones facing the spike in lawlessness – the CPD’s 2020 annual report states that “the Department saw a 339 percent increase in the number of its members shot or shot at last year—rising from 18 in 2019 to 79 in 2020.”
The causes of crime are undoubtedly complex, but one factor feeding the crime wave may be the failure to keep individuals charged with serious felonies in custody. CWBChicago, a local source covering crimes across the city, has been informally tracking the number of persons who, while on bond for a pending felony offense (including gun charges) have been charged with murder, attempted murder, or shooting another person. So far this year, approximately 45 cases have been identified, but the source cautions that the “actual number of murders and shootings committed by people on felony bail is undoubtedly much higher.”
And then there’s the failure to bring criminal charges at all. Last year, the Chicago Tribune compared Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s first three years in office with the last three years of her predecessor, Anita Alvarez, and reported that Foxx “is dropping felony cases involving charges of murder and other serious offenses at a higher rate than her predecessor.” The Tribune’s analysis found that the dropped cases included violent offenses like homicides, felony sex crimes, aggravated battery, aggravated battery with a firearm, and aggravated battery of a police officer, as well as narcotics offenses and weapons crimes. Overall, Foxx’s office had dropped all charges on close to 30% of felony defendants, compared to the 19.4% rate of charges dropped by the office under Alvarez.
Mayor Lightfoot took the unusual step of publicly criticizing Foxx after Foxx’s office declined to charge five suspects in a recent gang-related daytime shootout. According to a news report on the October 1 incident, “two Dodge Chargers driven by members of the Body Snatchers faction of the Four Corner Hustlers drove to the 1200 block of North Mason Avenue and exchanged words with members of the gang’s Jack Boys set.” Three individuals subsequently jumped out of the vehicles and “began to shoot into a brick house using handguns equipped with ‘switches’ that made the weapons fully automatic… Members of the Jack Boys who were inside the home then began firing back.” Three people were shot, including one who died. The report describes both cars as “likely stolen,” adding that police later located one of the vehicles and apprehended its driver after a police chase, finding an “AK-47” in the car.
Mayor Lightfoot responded to the prosecutors’ decision by warning that the failure to pursue accountability means “we’re going to see a level of brazenness that will send this city into chaos,” and has reportedly asked that federal prosecutors look into possible charges.
By now, the futility of expecting criminals to obey the law, while restricting the Second Amendment rights of honest citizens, should be obvious. Law-abiding residents of the Windy City are caught in the crosshairs between a violent criminal class and draconian laws pushed by progressive politicians to make obtaining a firearm for legitimate self defense an increasingly cumbersome and time-consuming process.
It’s likely to be a small comfort indeed to Chicago’s beleaguered residents (and visitors like Senator Durbin) that, should the worst happen, a tourniquet and some gauze may be at hand.
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