The sheer size of Chicago’s illegal gun market is a major driver in gun crime, according to research conducted by the city during Rahm Emanuel’s administration. So the city council is right to think that more needs to be done to get guns off the streets.
On Wednesday, the Council approved a resolution pushed by Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) empowers Chicago police to issue “jurisdictional notices of violation” to people with illegal firearms. For a first offense, the penalty will be a $5,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail. For a second offense, up to $20,000 and 180 days in jail.
Guns are terrorizing many people in the city, and guns are also a frequent cause of crimes such as carjackings and robberies. Chicago can’t be satisfied.
The bond is a good move.
It will not be a cure-all – there is no magic bullet for the problem – and it is reasonable to wonder how much it affects. Some people who have resources just pay the fines. Some will not have the money to do so. City resources can be tied up in pursuing violations, even if the cases are likely to be dismissed.
But the situation is unacceptable. There is just too much shooting. Napolitano noted that the city has had 630 gun homicides this year and more than 322 people have been shot. Murders are down from last year, but 2021 saw 800 murders, the highest number in a quarter of a century.
On Friday afternoon, two teenagers were killed and two others were wounded in a shooting outside Juarez High School. And on Wednesday, three people were killed by gunfire and seven were injured across the city. The daily buzz of shootings has become woven into the fabric of the city.
Ald. Mr. Matt O’Shea said on Friday the council hopes to give the police another tool in the toolbox to try to get guns off the streets, at a time when the police department is down more than 1,800 positions. Many of those illegally carrying firearms are repeat gun offenders, he said.
Removing illegal firearms is a difficult task. When police find illegal guns, the weapons are often found in car glove boxes, consoles or trunks. If more than one person is in the car, they can both be owners.
We are told that many police officers are not bringing cases of illegal possession of firearms because they believe that these cases will not result in a crime, or if they do, these cases are simply dismissed. Most of those who illegally carry firearms are too young to apply for FOID cards or concealed carry permits.
However, the city must continue its efforts to keep illegal firearms from flooding its neighborhoods. A statement is a way of doing it.
Napolitano’s decision has been criticized as part of a long trend – especially seen in the election season – in which the police and public officials hold press conferences, press releases or create legislation that breaks but does very little to address the lack of investment in society and. work, which must be part of any long-term solution to gun violence.
However, along with the great power of the firearm comes great responsibility. The city will never be safe if more citizens carry weapons and break the law, even if they say they are doing it in self-defense. More guns mean more gun crime. Often, we see horrific events that would not have resulted in loss of life if no one had a gun, often illegally.
Those who opposed Napolitano’s rule should not only look at the flaws. They should be advocating for stronger measures to get guns off the streets right now. The sound of gunfire continues to disrupt efforts to rebuild the community. Those who supported his resolution should continue to seek additional measures that are effective and carefully drawn.
Chicago, along with government at all levels, must continue to work to reduce gun violence as much as possible, in clean ways and to ensure that justice for all is served.
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