Police chief: Time to trade the war on drugs for a war on guns

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Garry McCarthy has identified the enemy, and it is all the politicians who won’t pass tougher gun laws.

“At the end of the day what we’ve got here in Chicago is too many guns coming in and not enough punishment going out,” the police superintendent said in a speech to the City Club on Wednesday.

It might sound familiar, because McCarthy has said it before. Then again, McCarthy has said a lot of things before.

When he first appeared before the City Council three years ago, McCarthy criticized the use of guns as a political wedge issue. “My goal is to bring the gun debate back to the center,” McCarthy said at the time. “I think that we have abolitionists on one side and I think that we have NRA and those kind of folks on the other side, and frankly it’s too polarizing a debate, and 95 percent of the country is somewhere in between.”

But his boss, Mayor Emanuel, had already announced his intention to continue the city’s long-running policy of pushing for tougher firearm laws, which had offered mayors and aldermen a political shield even when it didn’t stop the flow or use of guns.

McCarthy quickly showed that he was as nimble a politician as they come. Soon after his council testimony, he preached a different sermon to antigun pastor Michael Pfleger and his congregation at Saint Sabina.

And for the last two years, McCarthy and Emanuel have responded to bursts of violence in Chicago by calling for longer sentences for gun crimes.

“The gun violence in this city is the result of lax gun laws, period,” McCarthy said after a bloody weekend this spring. “It couldn’t be more clear what we need to do.”

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