Hang out on social media, watch FOX News or listen to talk radio and you won’t go a day without hearing it —Chicago is one of the most dangerous cities in the country. Despite highly restrictive gun laws, people are getting killed there every day. In fact, last year in Chicago, there was an average of two homicides every single day.
This number – 762 – is high even by Windy City standards. The highest Chicago’s seen in two decades and, according to the Associated Press, more than NYC and LA combined.
Given these numbers, it stands to reason shootings were up too … and they were. More than 1,100 more shootings in 2016 than in 2015. That’s 1,100 more … So, maybe there’s a good reason Chicago is at the center of the ongoing debate about gun violence in the United States.
The debate is really about why gun violence happens. On the left, gun opponents say easy access to guns is the problem. Their reasoning goes something like this: if it was tougher to get a gun, there would be fewer shootings. The evidence used to back this up often includes statistics about how gun violence is often committed by friends of family members of the victims, how having a gun in the home makes a person more likely to be a victim … that sort of thing.
Meanwhile, on the right, the argument is that gun bans don’t work. Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, and, yet, all these folks are still getting shot and killed. The evidence they put out there is often about how defenseless people make for easier victims, and that when you take guns away from law-abiding people, that really doesn’t stop criminals from getting them. The evidence they have for this? Well, Chicago is pretty compelling.
Even the police say the “flood” of illegal guns into the city is a constant problem. Citizens can’t legally get them, but that really hasn’t stopped criminals from getting their hands on weapons. All told, police seized more than 8,000 illegal guns in Chicago in 2016, a 20 percent increase over the number collected in 2015.
In Chicago, more guns in the hands of more bad guys led to more crime, more violence, and more murder. Those are the bare facts, and these are the stats both sides of this debate are left to work with.
In many cases, these debates take on a bit of a “preaching to the choir” feel to them. Where partisans seek out talking points that bolster their arguments and ignore contrary information. For either side to gain any ground, they need to find a compelling message to connect with the people in the middle, those who are comfortable with guns and gun rights, but uncomfortable enough with the violence to take some action.