First, the good news out of Chicago: carjackings are down by more than 50% in the city compared to January of this year. Unfortunately, that’s about the only good news when it comes to crime in the Second City, because in almost every other category, things are getting worse. Much worse, in fact.
Statistics included in a news release from the Chicago Police Department reveal that a troubling rise in gun violence this year shows little sign of slowing down. The city had five fewer homicides this April than last April, but the number of shooting victims increased to 299 from 225.
So far this year, 997 people have been shot, compared with 718 last year. The city has had 187 homicides — 31 more than during the same period last year.
Police also report a 34% increase in the number of firearms seized so far this year, but the increase doesn’t appear to have much of an impact on the city’s violent crime rate.
This past weekend, 45 people were shot in Chicago, five of them fatally, while two more people were stabbed to death. Like most of Chicago’s violence, the majority of last weekend’s shootings appear to be gang or drug-related.
In the weekend’s latest fatal attack, a teenage boy was shot Sunday while driving in West Garfield Park on the West Side.
The boy, 17, was shot in the face by someone on the sidewalk about 3 p.m. as he drove in the 4800 block of West Ferdinand Street, Chicago police said.
Earlier Sunday, two men were shot, one fatally, in Humboldt Park on the West Side.
The men were outside about 2 p.m. in the 800 block of North Ridgeway Avenue when someone walked up and fired shots at them, police said.
One man, 34, was struck in the shoulder and leg and taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where he died, police said. The other man, 40, was in good condition with gunshot wounds to the arm and abdomen.
As columnist Gene Lyons notes, the media tends to pay little attention to stories like these. Oh sure, local media in Chicago will keep a running tally of the shootings and murders, but the increase in violent crime isn’t going to get much coverage on MSNBC, CNN, or even Fox News. Instead, the media fixates on high profile targeted attacks and any officer-involved shooting, though these incidents are far more uncommon than the street-level violence that’s surging in many cities.
Criminals, however, don’t wear body cams, so TV footage is harder to come by. Also, because filing wrongful death lawsuits against street gangs is futile, CNN’s roving cast of pundits and personal injury lawyers aren’t primed to respond with appropriate indignation.
“When a suspect is a person of color, there is no attempt to de-escalate the situation,” said civil rights lawyer and ubiquitous talking head Ben Crump regarding a recent incident in Knoxville, Tennessee. “Police shoot first and ask questions later, time after time, because black lives are afforded less value.”
Regarding the value of black lives, here’s some important information: According to an extraordinary piece of reporting by Rick Rojas in The New York Times, Anthony J. Thompson, age 17, who was killed by Knoxville police in an armed confrontation in a cramped bathroom at Austin-East Magnet High School, was the fifth student from that campus to die of gun violence during this school year.
Five kids, all African American, all shot dead at one school in one year.
“It makes it harder to get out of the house every day knowing another child has lost their life,” one victim’s older sister said.
So far, however, this ongoing tragedy has drawn little commentary on CNN or MSNBC. “Among our elites,” my friend Bob Somerby writes, “no one cares about the gun violence which takes so many other lives. It doesn’t matter if Black people get shot and killed unless it’s done by police.”
I’d argue that the real issue here isn’t “gun violence” at all, but violence itself. Do you think the families of the two people stabbed to death in Chicago are relieved that at least their loved one wasn’t shot and killed?
But if the news media wants to fixate on guns, how about they spend a little time talking about the barriers between responsible gun owners and their right to carry in Chicago? While shootings are soaring in the Windy City, there are thousands of residents who’ve been stuck in a legal limbo for months waiting for their FOID card and concealed carry applications to be approved by the Illinois State Police. The ISP is taking, on average, more than four months to issue the permits mandated under state law to both possess and carry a firearm legally, which in turn is putting lives at risk (and violating the rights of applicants, in my opinion).
Don’t expect any coverage of those delays in the national news media either. No, when it comes to Chicago crime, the media really only has one storyline when they even bother to report on what’s going on: things are bad, and the answer is more gun control. The rhetoric doesn’t match reality, given the draconian gun laws already in place in Illinois, but that’s inevitably the conclusion draw by our anti-gun press.