“The Root is a daily online magazine that provides thought-provoking commentary on today’s news from a variety of black perspectives.” The publication interlinks with Washington Post, Newsweek, Slate and Foreign Policy articles. In Bad Luck for Chicago’s Bloody Summer, the Root reports the black perspective on guns and gun crime: Chicagoans need guns to defend themselves from the pervasive gangs. More than that, they need jobs and homes to give Chicago youth as an alternative to gang membership.
Just last weekend, a veteran Chicago law enforcement officer said he was hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court would strike down the city’s longstanding handgun ban because it would help address the city’s intractable gang problem.
“That way everybody would be able to carry a gun,” said the veteran officer, who patrols the border of West Englewood, one of the city’s deadliest neighborhoods, and spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal. “Gang bangers will think twice about robbing people because they won’t know if they are carrying a weapon, too.”
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“It is a well-known fact that Chicago gang members are better armed than Chicago police officers,” said the law enforcement veteran, who has 20 years on the force, “but they are not engaged in warfare with us. They are shooting each other. Unfortunately, these bullets don’t have names on them. They hit whoever’s in their path. They don’t care. They shoot and run. We don’t catch them because they know that by the time we get there, they will be gone because we do not have enough officers to respond to calls fast enough.”
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“Now a gang could be comprised of four or five, six, seven or eight guys,” he added. “The days of large quasi-military organizations are over. … Once the feds, however, cut off the heads of the leaders, they invited the creation of smaller factions. They no longer wear colors. They don’t have meetings. They don’t have rosters. It’s hard to pick them out nowadays.”
These smaller factions are what the law enforcement officers are fighting against in Chicago and across the nation, Scott said. They purchase weapons from dealers in downstate and rural Illinois, he added. But law enforcement agents are now seeing weapons even they cannot identify. They are from Poland and other countries and can only be described are high-powered, 9-mm weapons. Others confiscated include Smith & Wesson pistols, Berettas and Sig Sauers, which are carried by some officers with the Chicago Police Department.
The gangs make money selling weapons and drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. They also sell DVDs and loose cigarettes. But most of the times, shootings are sparked by fights over women and petty beefs, police say.
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“When you destabilize gangs, you instigate violence,” Scott explained. “When you destabilize neighborhoods, you have conflict. We have [had] a handgun ban in Chicago, yet so far this year, we have one of the highest homicide rates of any city in the country. People want jobs and homes, but that’s not what the city wants to talk about.”