The Truth About Chicago, Violence and Guns
Chicago at Night
Violence Here is Nothing New
Just this past weekend (Independence Day weekend) there were numerous shootings in Chicago. Fourteen people lost their lives in various shootings. If that were something that happened in a mall or a food court or college campus, that would be a mass shooting that would get tons and tons of media coverage. For Chicago - this is just a story that has become all too common.
The story got passed around via social media, of course. I saw a lot of people saying that they would avoid Chicago now. I saw more criticizing the gun laws in Chicago. The problem is that kind of thinking is just wrong.
Yes, there is a high crime rate here in Chicago. The truth is that there always has been. We are a violent city and have been since the city was a fort called Fort Dearborn during the French and Indian War. Fort Dearborn was the site of a massive massacre of soldiers and civilians by Native Americans. The spot where Fort Dearborn stood is right in the heart of downtown modern day Chicago.
Of course, everyone knows about the mob and gangsters of the 20s. We were also the site of one of America's first serial killers and that was during the famous World's Fair that gave the world its first Ferris Wheel. We have had a lot of violence here.
These days, Chicago is actually more civilized than the news would have you believe. If you are planning a trip to Chicago then don't think you are going to be dodging bullets while you walk down Michigan Avenue during your shopping spree.
The harsh truth is that most of the shootings take place in certain neighborhoods in Chicago. These are pretty much the same neighborhoods that have always been violent. They tend to be lower income, and most of the violence is gang-related. These are people who have guns illegally (in many cases) and use them to settle any and all problems.
The second thing to address is the "strict gun laws" here. The fact is that Chicago is now a conceal-carry place. That's because the Supreme Court long ago struck down the strict gun laws that Mayor Daley put in place in this city. For a long time you could not buy or have a handgun. This was back in the day when the city felt very safe and there were not these constant reports of multiple people dying from gunfire.
These days, there are laws about who can have a gun, but if you are a law-abiding citizen you can get a handgun and carry it around with you. You may not be able to bring it into a lot of bars and restaurants, but you can have a gun here.
The problem is that these situations are not the type where a "good guy with a gun" could defeat a "bad guy with a gun."
Most of these shootings happened fast. These gang guys are cowards. They are not walking down the middle of the street like a Western movie to have a showdown in the middle of the road. They also do not schedule a "rumble" like in West Side Story and then get together and have knife fights.
What happens here is that gang members try to settle old scores. They drive by or show up and pull out their guns and shoot into crowds. These are crowds of people who are just hanging out on porches or in backyards. The gang members think that someone from a rival gang are there and they don't bother to aim. They just shoot. Innocent people end up dead and many times the person the gangsters thought were there - were not there.
Then these cowards run away or drive away. They show up, shoot from a long distance away, and then vanish. By the time the people being shot at realize that a shooting is happening, the shooters are gone. If there was a "good guy" with a gun, they'd pull that gun only to find themselves with no target to shoot at.
That's the problem with everyone being able to carry a gun. Yes, these gangsters are always going to have guns, but unless you are trained like a soldier or policeman, if you have a gun and someone starts shooting at you the adrenaline rush that will happen when you try to pull the gun you'll end up shaking so hard that you'll only shoot yourself or more innocent people. It takes tremendous training to get your body desensitized to guns being shot at you so that you can shoot back with any accuracy.
Chicago has always been a place where people had guns, even when it was illegal. Still, I always felt safe in this town. Now, there is always the thought in my mind: that guy might have a gun. Gun control will not solve the problems in these neighborhoods, but having more legal guns ain't gonna help, either.
These shootings are happening on the south side of Chicago. The south side, west side and portions of the northwest side have always been violent. These are notorious gang areas. They remain violent.
The problem we have is that people these days think that a gun solves every problem. They shoot first and then don't bother to ask any questions. Innocent people end up dead in the crossfire. More guns is just going to lead to more dead innocent people.
The news of Independence Day is not new here in Chicago, but Chicago is beautiful town. It is a safe city. It is a good city full of good people who just want to live their lives. We have a problem because a river of illegal guns gets into places where gun violence is a daily problem.
The solutions are not more guns nor is it taking away guns from legal and honest citizens. The problems are within the neighborhoods where kids think guns solve problems, but also feel that they have no alternative but to join gangs. That's a problem for the entire country and not just Chicago.
More by this Author
In February of 1977 the worst disaster in the history of Chicago's CTA "El" trains took the lives of 11 people and injured 180 more.
Phil O'Keefe When you think of Chicago there is a good chance you think of the famous EL which runs throughout downtown and, now, stretches to the suburbs both north, south and west. It is hard to imagine the city...
A DuPage County man went missing years ago. His family believe's it's foul play, but it has been tough to convince the police of that. Here's John Spira's story.