Over July 4th weekend, 82 people were shot in Chicago, and 16 people died in one of the bloodiest spate of shootings the city has ever seen. Amongst the victims were a 66 year old woman who was accidentally shot in the head (she thankfully survived), and a 14 year old boy who lost his life after police shot him for apparently pulling a revolver on them. Speaking with WGN, Rev. Jesse Jackson stated that the situation is so dire that the city is in “a state of emergency.”
To put it in perspective, during the (roughly) 31 years of conflict in Northern Ireland, a total of 3,568 people died as a result of the violence between Unionists, Republicans and the British military.
In Chicago, over 5,398 people have lost their lives in the past 10 years.
Chicago’s homicide rate has actually been falling year after year, but it remains one of the deadliest cities in America. Deprivation statistics in the inner city are shocking, with up to 60% of residents in some neighborhoods living beneath the official poverty line. But it is the easy access to firearms that makes the homicide rate what it is. Youngsters can buy an illegal gun within 5 minutes, making high schools some of the most dangerous places in the city. In 2010, almost 700 school children were shot in Chicago, with 66 of them dying. For comparison, London, a city with a much higher violent crime rate over all, sees around a quarter of the murder rate with a population roughly 3 times the size.
The difference? Owning a gun is legal in Chicago, and illegal in London. Killing someone without a gun isn’t easy to do, so the proportionally lower rate of homicides in London is entirely predictable despite its residents’ tendencies towards harming one another. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what steps Chicago could take to dramatically lower the number of shootings, but sadly the political and judicial will simply isn’t there.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.