38 Chicago Kids Shot to Death in 2013

“I’m assuming that the emotions that we’ve all felt since Newtown, the emotions that we’ve all felt since Tucson and Aurora and Chicago — the pain we share with these families and families all across the country who’ve lost a loved one to gun violence — I’m assuming that’s not a temporary thing. I’m assuming our expressions of grief and our commitment to do something different to prevent these things from happening are not empty words.” –President Barack Obama on April 17th, 2013.

 

It seems unlikely that the war zone of Chicago will see a significant reduction in gun violence soon. In the aftermath of the Newtown Massacre and the Congress’s decision against enacting new gun control legislation, President Obama broke his longstanding silence on gun control and gun violence. However, as the likely new Secretary for Homeland Security Ray Kelly noted in 2012, there was “barely a peep out of” President Obama when 500 Chicagoans were killed last year, and over 400 school-aged children were shot.

On the one-year anniversary of the Sikh Temple Shooting, a second attempt at re-working gun control legislation looms near. How the new laws will address straw purchasers, gun show loopholes, and mental background checks remains to be seen. A statute that fails to address those issues may do little for victims of gun violence in one of our country’s premier cities.

One of the prevailing themes of the Second City is the Dickensian attempt to simultaneously maintain two cities in one. To some, Chicago is one of the great North American cities; however, to others it is amongst the most miserable places to live. That said, most agree that Chicago may be the most violent city in North America. Given that the 2012 homicide rate in Chicago exceeded the death toll for American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, an argument to the contrary is a difficult one to make.

The 241 Chicagoans murdered in so far in 2013 (207 via gun violence) exceed the military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Of the 241 deaths, 46 were school aged children.  38 of those kids were shot to death. As HLS rising 3L Robert Cross, a former intern at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, put it, “more Americans have been killed in gun related incidents (including homicide, suicide, and accidents) since 1968 than every war in this nation’s history. We are literally better at killing ourselves than any foreign enemy we’ve ever faced combined.”

While the combination of police layoffs, a public housing crises, and the proliferation of gangs contributed to Al Capone’s city’s surge in violence over the last ten years, city leaders like Mayor Rahm Emanuel cite lax federal gun control laws as a catalyst for the bloodshed in the city. Given that Chicago is home to the strictest gun control measures in the country, Emanuel’s claim may be more meritorious than his critics admit. While most of the guns trafficked into Chicago come from locales that neighbor the city, many were traced to Mississippi and Indiana.

 
Jonathan Nomamiukor is the Managing Editor of the Harvard Law Record.
 
The views in opinion editorials, columns, and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of The Record.

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