Illinois Governor Declares Gun Violence A "Public Health Crisis"

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

In an age when we all still remember being locked down for weeks on end due to a pandemic, it’s understandable that people would use the phrase “public health crisis.” I mean, COVID-19 actually is a public health issue and I’d say it’s serious enough to warrant the term. After all, I’ve lost a couple of friends to the disease and nearly lost a few more.

Unfortunately, we also live in an age when anti-Second Amendment officials don’t blink about using the phrase to describe things that have nothing to do with public health.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared gun violence a public health crisis on Monday, saying $250 million in state and federal money will be directed toward the issue over the next three years.

Public health experts and medical groups have called gun violence a public health crisis for years. Over the summer, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order declaring a “disaster emergency ” on gun violence in the state.

Pritzker’s office said about $50 million of the Illinois effort will come from the current state budget with the same approach in the following two years. Community organizations will be able to apply for funding in areas including youth intervention programs, trauma recovery and other mental health services.

Pritzker, a Democrat, called it “an unprecedented statewide investment in the pursuit of violence reduction.”

The move comes amid an increase in gun violence in several Illinois cities. Earlier this month, Peoria recorded a 30-year record for homicides. Violent crime has also spiked in Chicago, from expressway shootings to a rise in carjackings.

Funny how these are typically the same people who are quick to tell us the danger from COVID-19 is far from over, yet also can’t help but trip over themselves to manufacture another “public health crisis.”

The thing is, so-called gun violence is no such thing. It’s a criminal activity that needs to be treated much like any other criminal act.

Further, let’s also understand that the majority of the victims of this kind of violence are either criminals themselves or the unfortunate souls counted as collateral damage. This isn’t just random people shooting other random people here. These are people involved in gangs–criminal organizations, it should be remembered–who are trying to shoot members of other gangs.

No, that’s not universal. There will always be exceptions to this. However, it’s enough of an issue that officials should understand where to start with their efforts.

But to call it a public health crisis–especially as we’re not up to the numbers we all accepted in the 1990s–is nothing more than political grandstanding.

Pritzker is simply trying to piggyback off of the fear so many of us felt during the height of COVID-19 and trying to make us afraid of something different. That’s because scared people will tolerate a lot more than people who aren’t afraid.

Right now, Pritzker is simply shifting money. In time, expect this whole “public health crisis” thing to pop up during the debate of some bit of gun control before the legislature there. We’ll be told that a bill simply has to pass because of the crisis. Never mind that we had relatively low crime throughout much of the nation well before any such bill was considered.

No, that won’t matter.

This is really nothing more than a case of “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Right now, Pritzker has two “crises” he can work with, so he’s pulling over from one to serve the more long-term narrative, namely gun control.

He’s not the first to do it and he won’t be the last, but each time they do it, they do something absolutely stupid.