Within the first ten days of the new year, 120 people had already been shot within the city of Chicago. This is a full three times higher count than this time last year, despite repeated assurances from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and state government that Chicago violence has gone down.
In the short span between New Year’s Day and January 4th, nineteen people had already been shot and killed in Chicago during that first weekend alone. One of the victims was shot and killed just a few blocks away from the mayor’s relatively quiet neighborhood home. At least 101 more victims were seriously injured by firearms during that time.
During the first ten days of 2015, nine people had been killed and 31 had been injured by gun violence. While those statistics are far from ideal (the ideal being zero) they pale in comparison to the violence already experienced in the first few days of 2016. By the end of 2015, approximately 3,000 had been shot in Chicago. The trend of violence escalated and continued into the New Year, despite the typical trend of violence decreasing during the colder winter months.
Chicago Police Department spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi released a recent statement regarding the violence in a push for a city-wide crackdown on firearms. “Every year Chicago Police recover more illegal guns than officers in any other city, and as more and more illegal guns continue to find their way into our neighborhoods it is clear we need stronger state and federal gun laws,” Guglielmi said.
While many shooting victims are a result of gang violence, more are killed out of petty arguments, random acts of unexplained violence, revenge, or by mistake.
These victims included recent and tragic victims such as Tyshawn Lee, a nine-year-old boy shot who was allegedly killed by a rival member of his father’s gang while the child walked home from school one afternoon. The shooting that occurred just four blocks from Mayor Emanuel’s home was the result of an argument at an apartment party, where the shooter shot and killed one person and seriously wounded two others. Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old mother of five was accidentally shot and killed by Chicago police while she was trying to calm a mentally ill man that the police had been called to arrest late in 2015.
There have been other incidences of police-caused fatal shootings in Chicago, including the now-infamous murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot sixteen times as he ran away. This has prompted calls to reduce gun use within the police forces and reform in training police officers in how to deal with non-violent criminals.
Although many of the gun violence fatalities are young teenagers involved in gang disputes, there is little discrimination of age of social position when it comes to common Chicago shootings. Gun control remains at the forefront of political arguments, but until it’s resolved among politicians, more Chicagoans will die on city sidewalks on their way home in 2016.