Chicago’s party bus business has had a chance to show it can throw a good party without putting anyone in danger. It has failed.
Just last month, two people were killed and another injured in the Edgewater neighborhood as the result of gun play between people on a party bus and the occupants of an SUV. Last week, the police seized three semi-automatic handguns with extended magazines from a crowded party bus near the Museum Campus.
In the last two years, 11 shootings have been connected to party buses, giving awful new meaning to the word “party.”
On Wednesday, the City Council responded appropriately by imposing new rules on the industry, including a requirement that licensed security guards and cameras be on board party buses that allow alcohol — which is most of them — and have 15 or more passengers.
If problems persist, the Council should impose even tough restrictions, and we’d love to see the General Assembly impose a ban on concealed weapons on party buses.
Chicago has some 370 party buses, and many operate without incident. But those 11 shootings tell the rest of the story. Often, heavy drinking takes place on rowdy party buses, creating what Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called a “bad combination of substance abuse and guns.”
Groups planning an evening out often turn to party buses, and the appeal is easy to see. A rolling party can be fun — and entirely safe and responsible. But nobody wants buses pulling up to the curb to discharge violent drunken passengers, which happens. And traffic, booze and guns — that sure seems like a bad mix.
The party bus industry remains on notice. Drive straight, or it’s the end of the line.
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