The pandemic has actually increased the overall number of shootings in Chicago, but our numbers are still going down from where they were last year and the year before. This year, we had 254 shootings in May whereas 2021 and 2020 showed numbers well above 300 shootings. The last year we posted a number lower than 200 was 2019, before the pandemic began.
Despite showing signs of slowing, the numbers are not where law enforcement hoped they would be and there is concern over what the summer could hold. Chicago, with the help of federal law enforcement and Project Safe Neighborhoods, has been attempting to get guns off the street and reduce the overall amount of gun violence in the city. However, even as more and more gun busts are being reported, there has only been a marginal dip in the overall number of shootings and murders.
What is Working and What is Not
Increasing the number of busts is good for law enforcement because it shows that they care about the problem and are doing something to fix it. However, the vast majority of guns that enter the City of Chicago come from elsewhere and were not purchased within the city limits. Chicago thus becomes a magnet for illegal guns purchased elsewhere largely due to our laws which make it more difficult to own and purchase a weapon than elsewhere in the state.
Part of the problem is that the needs of the city and the needs of rural areas are quite different. Guns are a part of rural culture and pose less risk than they do in cities. The city moves to restrict gun access, but without the backing of rural communities, it becomes much more difficult to sell. It then becomes nearly impossible for city dwellers to pass legislation that effectively prohibits gun purchase and use.
Meanwhile, even when the state does pass laws regarding guns, it can be difficult for rural communities to enforce these rules. The rules are much more likely to be enforced in cities where gun violence is a primary concern. In these cases, it is most likely that Black, poor urbanites will face weapons charges than their white, rural counterparts. This has created a problem much like the war on drugs, where you see primarily Black populations targeted for gun crimes. While whites continue to make up the majority of weapons arrestees, you are still more likely to be charged if you are Black than if you are white. In other words, a higher percentage of the Black population will find themselves facing weapons charges than the white population.
Meanwhile, Blacks are still much more likely to be the victims of gun violence than whites. So, it is another instance where trying to improve the situation of Black communities has resulted in more destruction.
Today, there is a greater effort on preventing crime by giving those convicted of weapons charges better access to resources, education, mental health, and job training, which has proven successful in reducing both the recidivism rate of offenders and the chances that they will be the victim of gun violence. These programs are proving successful and with luck, will become standardized in cities across the country.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
David Freidberg represents the interests of those who have been charged with weapons violations. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to schedule an appointment and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.