In case you didn’t notice it on social media, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has gotten into a bit of a spat with Texas Senator Ted Cruz. The subject is guns and gang violence, something that Ms. Lightfoot is finding to be a largely intractable problem in the Windy City, though some modest decreases in murders have been recorded in the past few months. Rather than sticking to Twitter to hash this out, the mayor landed herself an op-ed slot in the WaPo this week to stake out her case against Cruz.
The mayor starts out well enough, quoting one of Cruz’s tweets about how she should focus more on locking up violent criminals and preventing convicts and felons from illegally obtaining firearms. In other words, enforce the laws we have on the books rather than dreaming up new restrictions to inflict upon the law-abiding. They both seem to agree on at least part of that position. But Lightfoot then goes a bit off the rails, claiming that the real problem isn’t Chicago. It’s Indiana.
Sixty percent of firearms owned or used illegally recovered in Chicago come from outside Illinois. These guns don’t recognize state lines or city boundaries. Cruz said the five U.S. cities with the highest murder rates “have had Democratic mayors for decades and aggressive gun control policies — none seems to be working.” He’s making my case for me: As long as people can drive from Illinois to Indiana and purchase a personal arsenal without a background check, Chicago’s gun laws will always be as weak as those of the closest permissive state.
The consequences of this situation are deadly. A gang member from Chicago bought at least seven illegal guns from someone in New Mexico. Two of those guns were used to commit homicides in the city, including the execution of a 9-year-old boy, Tyshawn Lee, in 2015. Tyshawn’s death was preventable.
Whew! Where to even start with this mess. First of all, if sixty percent of the illegally owned guns used in Chicago crimes come from outside the state, that means forty percent were obtained in Chicago/Illinois. That’s nearly half and it’s a lot, so I wouldn’t be bragging too much about that number.