Don't Expect Much From Chicago's Latest Gun Violence Plan

AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

The city of Chicago has had a violence problem for a long, long time now. Law enforcement and city officials are under constant pressure to do something about it.

And officials try to do something. The problem is that everything they try seems to be the wrong somethings.

Frankly, their latest effort is likely doomed to be the wrong something, too.

Following another violent weekend in Chicago in which 56 people were shot, 11 fatally, the Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown announced a new strategy to combat gun violence.

Brown said the department will create a team of 50 officers to target gun traffickers, straw buyers, unscrupulous licensed firearms dealers and anyone who facilitates the flow of illegal guns into the city.

“The point of this investigations team — which is new and unique, and a first in its class — is to get the gun before it hits the streets at the trafficking level,” Brown said at a news conference Monday. “These third parties need to hear me loud and clear: We’re coming for you, and we’re going to try to charge you with the highest charge we can, if not in the federal system, then at the state attorney’s office.”

Aiming his words at those who purchase illegal guns used in crimes, he said, “Do not buy guns for violent people is our message, or you will pay the price for them by doing what we hope to be serious time.”

“Whatever they’re paying you to go buy these guns … it’s blood money,” Brown said. “Blood is on your hands, and we’re coming for you.”

He said the new gun investigations team will work closely with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as state and federal prosecutors in an attempt to demolish any gun pipelines into the city and bring purveyors of illegal firearms to justice.

Brown said one of the major focuses of the team, which the department began assembling in the spring, will be to trace every illegal gun seized in Chicago to the person who sold the weapons to the perpetrators or those who bought the guns on their behalf.

This sounds good to the uninitiated, but how are you going to trace a gun that was stolen?

See, most guns used in crime aren’t straw buys are sold by unscrupulous licensed dealers–those are actually incredibly rare. They’re stolen guns that are then trafficked into Chicago for sale there.

How in the hell are you going to trace that?

If this is the best Chicago can provide its citizens, then folks need to at least consider moving. Seriously.

After all, the Chicago Police Department knows damn good and well how most of the guns they recover are stolen. They know it and they’re still trotting this out as some kind of answer to the problem of violent crime in the city. It’s not. It’s nothing but a placebo that will make the people of the city feel like the police are doing something without the police having to really do anything.

Don’t get me wrong, this new unit will make arrests. They’ll bust people and lock them up. I’m sure these will be good cops who know what they’re doing.

But it won’t actually slow down the criminals. Instead, demand will remain steady and where there’s demand, someone will rise up to meet that demand. They’ll just get sneakier with how they meet that demand.

Meanwhile, the people of Chicago are faced with rules and regulations that make it harder for them to protect themselves from the violence that surrounds them.

Nothing about that is right.