After bloody July Fourth weekend, mayor calls for the feds. We hope they're listening.

We cannot let gun violence become as much of an American tradition on July Fourth as fireworks. Here in Chicago, there were at least 105 people shot — 21 fatally — over the long holiday weekend.

SHARE After bloody July Fourth weekend, mayor calls for the feds. We hope they're listening.
A man mows his lawn, which has yellow police "caution" tape draped across it.

A Chicago resident mows his lawn shortly after a drive-by shooting occurred outside his home on Saturday. At least 105 people were shot, 21 fatally, in the city over the long Fourth of July weekend.

Scott Olson/Getty

The maximum rider capacity on a standard 40-foot CTA bus is 53 passengers. Two buses can fit 106 commuters. There were at least 105 people shot in Chicago — 21 of them fatally — over the extended July Fourth weekend. Take a minute to imagine the scale of gun violence that gripped chunks of our city. There were enough victims to fill two CTA buses.

It “left our city in a state of grief,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said.

The bloodshed has also left many Chicagoans deeply anguished.

Johnson dealt with this reality head-on when he visited Greater Grand Crossing late last week to console the community after a mass shooting inside a home claimed the lives of two women, 45-year-old Nakeeshia Strong and Capri Edwards, 24, and Strong’s 8-year-old son, Bryson Orr. Edwards’ two sons were also wounded.

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It didn’t take long for a relative of the victims to tell Johnson he has to step it up and get serious about combating gun violence.

“You ain’t doing nothing about it, though,” Toni Strong Upshaw told Johnson at the South Side gathering, the Chicago Tribune reported. “You come out after the fact.”

Upshaw later apologized for lashing out at Johnson, who, in acknowledging the woman’s heartbreak and discontent, expressed that there was no need to say sorry. The mayor spoke with far less patience for shooters who made the “choice” to pull the trigger in the Greater Grand Crossing crime and other shootings over the long holiday weekend. The mayor’s Austin neighborhood was hit hard by shootings; 10 were in his West Side police district.

“I will not stand idly by. We will not be passive in this moment,” a defiant Johnson said at a news conference Monday with Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling and other city officials. “We need to ensure that we are holding every single individual accountable for the pain and trauma and the torment that they have caused in this city.”

Bring in the feds

While there were no reported arrests related to any of the shootings between Thursday and Sunday, Johnson publicly asked federal authorities to respond to the crisis.

He wants the feds to stop the flow of illegal guns and provide more money for victim support. He also called for violence interrupters.

“Remember the mass shooting that happened in Highland Park and all of the services that they got? That’s what we’re asking for. That’s all,” the mayor said. “What other suburban places get around the country when mass shootings happen like that, we’re just simply saying that Chicago deserves that as well.”

The mayor is right, but we’ll go a step further. Federal authorities should look hard at these shootings. If they can prove they were connected to drugs, robberies or gang crimes, they should use the full weight of their office to prosecute.

We’re not sure they’ve tried their hardest in the past. We remember what two local law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Sun-Times reporter Frank Main earlier this year. They said they were frustrated with the low approval rate by federal prosecutors for gun cases here. They understood why prosecutors are careful to bring cases they think they can win, but “sometimes you just gotta swing the bat,” one official told Main.

Swing hard, we say.

July Fourth: America’s deadly day

Gun violence has become as much of an American tradition on July Fourth as fireworks, barbecues and a day at the beach. There are more mass killings and mass shootings on Independence Day than any other day of the year, statistics show.

The day after — July 5 — is the second-most dangerous day in the U.S., according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Here in Chicago, there were at least three other mass shootings — on the Near West Side, Douglas and Austin — in addition to the deadly one in Greater Grand Crossing.

Just as troublesome was the frequency of bullets showering our streets as July Fourth weekend kicked off.

By the end of Friday, the tally of shootings — six people shot Thursday and 62 shot Friday, 12 killed over both days — surpassed the bleak statistics for last year’s entire four-day holiday weekend between July 1 and July 4.

Chicago’s gun violence, whether it takes place on a weekday in the dead of January or over the July Fourth holiday, is unacceptable.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy late last month declared gun violence a public health crisis. There are experts and leaders who deal with this particular ailment daily, Murthy’s 40-page report said. “But it will take more — the collective commitment of the nation — to turn the tide on the crisis of firearm violence in America.”

Chicago cannot afford to waver on doing its part. But the feds shouldn’t either.

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