Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is continuing her ineffective and ill-advised strategy of reducing violent crime by declaring war on “illegal guns,” announcing on Thursday a new million-dollar fund that will pay people for tips about where to find those guns and the people possessing them.
“We are calling on our residents to overcome your fears, to no longer be hesitant to report the presence of illegal firearms,” Lightfoot said.
Mayor Lightfoot said more specific details will be released later. She also said the city is making progress on [cr]ime.
“This statistical progress is cold comfort to the individuals and neighborhoods who are still living in daily fear,” Lightfoot said.
If people are truly afraid to contact police and report criminals illegally carrying guns, I’m not sure that the promise of some undetermined amount of cash is going to soothe their fears. Honestly, Lightfoot would have been better off putting that million dollars towards witness protection services, which is something that activists have been demanding for years. As the Chicago Tribune’s Dahleen Glanton wrote back in 2019:
Treja Kelley bravely stepped down from the witness stand and pointed out the man she saw shoot her cousin to death on a South Side street, helping to secure his conviction for first-degree murder.
Three months after she testified, the 18-year-old woman, pregnant with her first child, was gunned down while walking home from work in her Back of the Yards neighborhood. The gunman emerged from an alley, stood within 5 feet of her and fired three shots into her head and several into her torso.
No arrest has been made. And at this point, we don’t know for sure whether the shooting had anything to do with her testimony. But in some ways, it doesn’t matter.
In communities ravaged with violence, the story of Kelley’s killing has merged into the ongoing saga of retaliatory shootings that paralyze investigations and allow criminals to roam free. Social media, whether accurately or not, has deemed Kelley a poster child for what can happen to people who speak up.
… When lives are at risk, police and prosecutors have a role to play. It’s their responsibility to protect witnesses who put their lives on the line to provide information and appear in court. It is indeed a daunting, but not impossible, task to provide that security. But they need resources.
What we need in Chicago is a fully funded witness protection program like the federal program that relocates vulnerable witnesses and otherwise protects them leading up to and after a trial. The program should be funded by the city and run in conjunction with the state’s attorney’s office and the Police Department.
We don’t always like to admit it, but there are some ruthless killers walking the streets of Chicago. They will kill children, grandparents, pregnant mothers and other innocent bystanders who wander into their range of fire.
Lightfoot is still seemingly obsessed with the notion that she can meaningfully reduce the supply of black market firearms in Chicago, though the fact that the city is on pace to seize a record number of guns even while shootings and homicides are continuing to climb suggests that her strategy is worthless as a public safety measure. The mayor is so wedded to her anti-gun ideology that she apparently can’t wrap her head around the idea of focusing law enforcement resources on the most violent offenders instead of pursuing every tip about someone carrying a gun without a license.
Remember, the state of Illinois still hasn’t addressed the long backlogs for those applying for the required permits necessary to both own and carry firearms in the state. According to the Illinois State Police, new Firearm Owner ID card applications are taking an average of more than 200 days to process, while concealed carry applications are taking anywhere between 150 and 180 days, on average. Because the state is unwilling or unable to approve or deny these applications within the 30-day window required under Illinois law, there are undoubtably a lot of unlicensed gun-carriers in Chicago right now who have no desire to commit a violent crime, but aren’t waiting around for the state to give them permission before they start carrying a gun in self-defense.
My guess is that the mayor’s new idea won’t have any impact whatsoever on the city’s crime rate, because she needs to be focusing on reducing the demand for guns among violent offenders instead of trying to trying to reduce the supply. As long as she’s insistent on using gun control and not smart policing to bring down the number of shootings, Lori Lightfoot is doomed to failure, and Chicago is destined to suffer the consequences.