The national media has been shamefully silent about the staggering increase in violent crime in Chicago, noticing only for a moment or two when the city logs a particularly deadly weekend, when the victims are tragically young, or when they’re related to someone famous. The death of 32-year-old Nykea Aldridge this past weekend certainly got the media’s attention, but not because she was a mom who was killed by a couple of losers who should’ve been behind bars thanks to their criminal records. Sadly, that story isn’t compelling enough for the national media. But Aldridge is the cousin of NBA superstar Dwyane Wade, and his fame was enough to get the media to pay attention to what’s going on in Chicago—at least for a turn of the news cycle.
Of course there’s been no shortage of opinion pieces urging more gun-control laws, while many news outlets and “thought leaders” have downplayed or downright ignored the records of the two suspects charged in Aldridge’s death. Worse yet, many of the folks opining about the murder of Aldridge fail to even acknowledge that there were nine other homicides and more than 50 people shot in Chicago on the same weekend. Even when the media bothers to notice what’s happening in Chicago, they’re uninterested in most of the violence that’s occurring in neighborhoods across the city.
This violence, according to Chicago police, is being driven by about 1,500 individuals who are some of the most violent and prolific offenders in the city—or about 1 percent of the city’s gang members. Think about that for a second. Are there any politicians in Chicago who don’t think the answer to stopping the city’s surge in violence is more gun-control laws aimed at restricting legal gun ownership? Meanwhile, you’ve got a revolving door down at the county courthouse where they are letting repeat offenders off easy, and a U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago (technically the Northern District of Illinois) that continuously lags behind the national average in prosecuting federal weapons cases. When gun owners talk about enforcing the existing laws on the books, we really mean it. It’s ludicrous to think that passing additional gun-control laws will reduce violent crime when our criminal justice system appears incapable or unconcerned with focusing on the most violent individuals in society.
But the anti-gun lawmakers aren’t law enforcers. Their job is done when they pass a law. And until they do, they can push and campaign on the promise that the next round of local, state or federal laws (whatever is the priority at the time) will finally start to turn things around. And when those promises turn out to be empty (homicides have been increasing in places like Denver, Hartford and Baltimore since 2013—the year Colorado, Connecticut and Maryland passed sweeping anti-gun bills) the anti-gun lawmakers have a built-in excuse: The new laws didn’t work because they didn’t go far enough, which is why we need even more gun-control laws.
Most of the media doesn’t have the knowledge base or the attention span to really cover the issue of violent crime, either locally or nationally. Instead, the most lurid of crimes get outsized attention, while the “everyday” violence becomes so commonplace that it is no longer out of the ordinary and therefore no longer newsworthy. Those of us who don’t live in these communities torn apart by violence can easily get a skewed perspective on what these neighborhoods are like, and we can often ignore or downplay the simple fact that even in the worst neighborhoods, there are more good people than bad living there—more individuals who live their life instead of trying to end another’s. We can blithely assume that slapping another law on the books will solve the problem, and even if it doesn’t, well, we’ve done something.
That’s not good enough. We need to do something that works, and that starts by ensuring that the most prolific and violent offenders are cut off from their “Get Out Of Jail Free” cards.