clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Coming to Chicago can help senators learn the horrific reality of gun violence

Even as more Americans are seeing a need for reducing gun crime, Washington has failed to act.

Sen. Dick Durbin talks about the support of the federal government to help aid Chicago combat gun violence at a news conference in Lawndale on July 22.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

People in Washington who make gun rules that affect every American’s safety should really get out a little more.

Every time they make it easier to obtain and tote around guns, every time they make American cities a little more like the Wild West, expect more shootings, more deaths and more suffering.

We’re glad Sen. Dick Durbin is bringing the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he is chair, to Chicago for a hearing on Monday. Some of the committee members have made a career of promoting unrestricted gun rights. We’re thinking of those such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who thinks measures to reduce gun violence are “ridiculous theater” and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who called President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives a “notorious gun-grabber.”

They need to be reminded how bullets flying on the streets take innocent lives, including those of young children. And that at the end of last month the Cook County medical examiner’s office reported 1,000 homicides for the first time in 27 years, with a month to go in the year.

Just from Friday night through the weekend, gunfire wounded 19 in Chicago, including a 15-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl in a chaotic night downtown. Six others were slain by guns. As Durbin said in a statement, Chicago is “a city that is all too familiar with the devastating cycle of gun violence and the trauma it leaves behind.”

Coming to Chicago will also give the committee members a chance to see what the local U.S. attorney’s office has been doing to crack down on straw purchasing, in which someone buys guns for someone else who can’t legally buy them, said Thomas Vanden Berk, founder and chair of Gun Violence Prevention Political Action Committee.

We kind of wish Supreme Court justices would come to Chicago as well, to see how their affinity for dreaming up new gun rights affects the city’s neighborhoods. The court is now considering a case that could vastly extend the right to carry guns in public.

We’ve seen that tragic play before. Stanford law professor John Donohue, for example, documented how mass shootings soared after the federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004. Do we really want to see shootings skyrocket yet again, over the horrific numbers we have now?

Even as more Americans now see the need for reducing gun crime, Washington has failed to act. It’s time our leaders learned a little sense from the people who experience gun crime from the wrong end of the barrel.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.