This editorial was originally published in the Bloomington Pantagraph.
We won’t pretend we have any idea how to solve the issue of gun violence in Chicago.
We don’t know how to address issues in Bloomington, Champaign, Decatur and Springfield and throughout Central Illinois. But we know it’s a concern we have to attempt to solve.
In the deadliest and most violent weekend this year in Chicago, over 100 people were shot over the Fourth of July weekend. Of those casualties, 19 were killed.
Among the wounded were 13 children and two Chicago police supervisors. Five of the kids were shot within nine hours Sunday evening through early Monday.
Both the number of fatal shootings and the number of shootings overall are highs for 2021, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Chicago is the bane of many groups of people. The mayor is one of the greatest or one of the worst in the city's history, depending on whom you ask and when. Liberals decry what they see as an out-of-control police force. Conservatives point to the city's issues with a strict gun control regulation that doesn't prevent 2,000 people from being shot so far this year. Strict gun control hasn’t prevented 100,000 gang members taking root in the city.
They're correct about that, of course. But the issue must grow from a discussion of right versus wrong to a resolution to take the necessary steps we must take to reduce those numbers.
The work will be hard and painful and will take a long time. Extremists can't be allowed to frame the discussion. Violence cannot be solved by forbidding guns, nor can it be solved by a policy of three strikes and you're done.
Ultimately, Chicago violence makes Illinois bleed. The city already has areas visitors are advised to avoid. But violence is spreading to areas to which tourists flock. The last thing any potential visitor to the city needed to hear was about the arrest of a lakeside hotel guest who had guns and bullets in his room. Police noted Navy Pier, a large lakeside attraction, was close to the hotel.
Chicago is dealing with other issues as well. Global warming is being blamed for both rising and falling levels of Lake Michigan, Frequent flooding has reclaimed a significant amount of shoreline.
Tourism isn’t the only reason, or even the primary reason, to address gun violence But it is a reason. Like it or not, Chicago’s problems turn into a problem for the entire state.