4 Solutions To Chicago Gun Violence

Image courtesy of sheddlight.org

Image courtesy of sheddlight.org

We’ve talked a lot here about the root problems of Chicago gun violence over the last couple weeks. As progressives, though, I believe it’s our job to not only look at some of the problems in society, but to listen to those impacted by the problems, to analyze, and then strategize for plans to move forward together in solidarity. I’m suggesting here that there are Chicago gun violence solutions or measures that would effectively reduce the violence in Chicago. Many of these plans would have the added effect of reducing the wealth gap and raising the tax base. Because, make no mistake, the shooting violence and the economic violence are very much tied together, and racial violence is the central factor.

1. Fire Police Chief Garry McCarthy and any other Broken Windows practitioner

McCarthy, in following the racist Broken Windows philosophy of crime-fighting, is actually making things worse in largely-black neighborhoods. The BW theory focuses on minor, often victimless crimes in order to catch and supposedly prevent larger crimes. But it does so by targeting and fracturing communities of color and targeting minorities at embarrassingly high disproportion. Police members have admitted that they are ordered to shake down people with petty crimes in order to “get results”. Results-oriented policing really is just code for scaring up numbers to make it look like the police are actually doing something. But all they’re doing is large-scale abduction of people of color and leaving their communities open to more poverty and crime.

2. Decriminalize marijuana usage

This one is a bit difficult. Drug trafficking is good business in black neighborhoods precisely because it is illegal. When it becomes legalized, well-connected White people tend to take over and make the money. It would be nice in one sense to eventually decriminalize all drugs and offer treatment, but that may never happen in US culture. In the meantime, possession of small amounts of weed is the number one cause of incarceration in Chicago, so we can at least knock out a chunk of the problem right here.

3. Reinvest in poor neighborhoods

If you’ve yet to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ praiseworthy and headway-making article “The Case for Reparations”, we’ll be right here when you come back. Neighborhoods like Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Lawndale, Back of the Yards, Roseland, and Englewood. Efforts and money should also be invested in trying to slow gentrification and further displacement of poor people in neighborhoods like Logan Square and Pilsen where more and more middle class White people move in and drive out established black and brown families. When I say re-invest, I’m arguing along with Coates that wealth and resources were already taken from these communities and need to be put back in. This is not a matter of a few million dollars, either, but billions upon billions that have been diverted from neighborhoods of color over generations. Funds should be given back concurrently through infrastructure (high quality education at all levels, better paved roads, rapid public transportation service, high-speed internet and widespread computers) and economics (living wage jobs, investments in local businesses, building construction, grocery stores in food deserts, cash payouts). The two are, of course, intricately connected, especially if jobs for the first are localized and communities are afforded the opportunity to grow their own educators and tradesters.

4. Reduce easy access to guns

Gun control is a tricky widget. Chicago has some tough limits on guns, but the last thing we need is more criminalization as it leads to more incarceration. Mass imprisonment, as we’ve noted, doesn’t really solve problems – it mostly delays and concentrates them. Since many of the guns come from areas just outside of Chicago, it just makes more sense to reduce them and find ways to fight the trafficking of them into the city. One way to do this without illegal and expensive searches of every car that passes by is to track purchases and limit gun purchases. One shop in Riverdale, Illinois was connected to 1300 confiscated guns in Chicago between 2008-2012. So taking such places and traffickers out of commission would help tremendously, but then we have an NRA to deal with. And the NRA, for all their talk about “good guys with guns” really isn’t interested in reducing gun violence. So we have to rely on decreasing demand for the most part. End the racial and economic violence, and the demand for retributive physical violence falls as well.

So, there we have it: Four easy-peasy solutions that Chicagoans and local activists like Mayoral Tutorial and Prison Culture have been saying for years. If our elected leadership is looking for real solutions and not just looking like they’re making solutions, it will mean some significant changes in the way business is conducted here. If progressives want to help Chicago, share what Chicago progressives in these affected communities are saying, please. Not the Democratic Party, not Rahm Emanuel, not even the national gun control community. You would think only Republicans would be against these reforms. Take note, fellow progressives, most of the time, the way forward is to listen to the people most affected.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


Facebook comments

  • Charles Vincent

    1) This I probably not a bad idea but it should go further and get rid of the mayor and his admin staff as well since the police chiefs orders come from the mayor.

    2) For clarity you mean legalize not decriminalize these two terms mean different things under the law. But probably a good idea to help bring money to the poor neighborhoods and give legal remedies to buyers/sellers/growers.

    3) Tax proceeds from number two could bolster state funding to reinvest and upgrade infrastructure.

    4) Guns are not and never have been a root cause of violence. But legalizing illicit drugs an reducing poverty will impact violence.

    • The problem with outright legalizing would be that, as Michelle Alexander has argued and we’re beginning to see in California, Colorado, etc, is that that means of monetizing goes to well-connected white people and now black and Latino communities have even fewer resources to go to.

      • Charles Vincent

        Not when you can get a license to sell and grow with a small fee that isn’t cost prohibitive. The cost for licensure here in Colorado is minimal which allows healthy competition and to my knowledge doesn’t require a retail store front.

      • Sandy Greer

        The problems I’ve seen in California have little to do with ‘well-connected white people’ vs blacks and Latinos.

        There’s inconsistent regulation here. We’ve had raids on pot shops. It’s hit-or-miss – some cities approve, some don’t. My understanding is that Colorado – full legalization – regulates better, and with fewer, if any, problems.

        We’ve problems with the cartels moving in on farmers. Some violence, there. Reports of pot growing in our national parks – and attempts to seize control of people’s lands. More violence. .

        And, finally, some environmental problems – erosion, etc. Which, again, stems from a lack of regulation, IMO

        Save for the cartels – and the increasing violence surrounding them – I don’t see this as a racial thing.

    • Other than that, I do agree for the most part. But gun trafficking does need to be reduced.

      • Charles Vincent

        Raiding criminals and confiscating illegally possessed property would help that.

      • Mako_Dragoon

        Gun trafficking is already a crime, straw purchasing is a punishable offense, known felons are barred from purchasing guns (not that the ATF prosecutes it), and the vast majority of murderers in Chicago (according to Chicago PD stats) aren’t legally able to purchase guns (to young or felons).

        How do you propose we reduce gun trafficking other than enforcing current laws?

        We cannot fix the problem by attempting to fix a symptom. Around 90% of murders in Chicago are gang or drug related (per Chicago PD stats). Honest employment opportunities and decriminalization (not necessarily legalization) will remove the cause of violence.

  • R.E. Naess

    Thoughtful and accurate article and then you reveal the following ignorant impulse for stereotyping.

    “And the NRA, for all their talk about “good guys with guns” really isn’t interested in reducing gun violence.”

    Abandoning your evident intelligent approach, it is astounding that you don’t understand that the NRA would like nothing better than to eliminate criminal misuse of firearms! Take a few minutes and research the history and overall focus of the NRA and give up the pathetic mindless propaganda of the anti-gun zealots. It is absolutely not in the interest of NRA to have to constantly fight for the constitutionally protected right to possess firearms, using valuable resources to defend that right against those whose solutions to reduce violence of all types will do nothing of the sort. Your suggestions above are the answers, not using criminal and negligent behaviour by the few who do engage in it as a reason to punish the unquestioned overwhelming majority of citizens who do not and who value their rights.

    • The NRA has stood in the way of critical research into effective ways of reducing gun violence. Partly as a result of that, I would argue, liberals and the left have reduced all meaningful anti-gun-violence discourse into really simplistic and unhelpful ways. In Chicago, I would argue the problem is both too many guns flooding the streets and too many problems flooding with them that lead to violence, with guns being the easiest tool for that.

      I would like for the NRA to stop standing in the way of research.

      • R.E. Naess

        Regardless of who opposes ideology and agenda driven policy decisions, it is not appropriate to base these decisions on bogus research. There is plenty of good, peer reviewed research on the uses of firearms in the US that has been available since the seventies. This research is being done by many qualified scholars and organizations, whose focus is such research.
        The NRA is not “standing in the way of research” but brought to congress proof of the lack of objectivity and ideological anti-gun ‘research’ of the NIH and CDC for which the tax money is not to be spent. Congress approved the defunding of the health organizations, not NRA.
        Your position on firearms and the NRA is clearly biased and not based on reasonable research and objectivity. Too bad because it undermines your other valid points and perspectives. There are far more positive and legitimate uses for firearms in this country than just the extremely small number of criminal events. The saving of people’s lives from private possession of firearms, fired with injury or death resulting or just brandished to defeat criminal threat is well documented, but rarely or never given media publicity for political reasons.
        Your gun bias prevents you from truly understanding the full issue.

        Bob Naess

    • thank you for all the other fine words, though. 😉

  • FiftycalTX

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA Yah, “minorities” shouldn’t have the RIGHTS that other races have, they might abuse them. Gawd you progs have such LOW OPINIONS of non-whites. “Minorities” are too stupid to be able to get an ID to vote, so they might not vote for the prog. “Minorities” are too stupid to get a job on an equal footing with others or get grades high enough to get in college, so let’s have a quota for them. I guess the progs just want to keep the minorities down on the plantation.

    • hey, so you can’t read. that’s nice.

  • Mako_Dragoon

    1-3 are all things that would have a positive effect on Chicago. Although I cringe at the idea of “reparations” putting money into infrastructure and education in troubled areas can only have positive effects.

    However, gun control laws will never have a positive effect in Chicago. The history of gun control in Chicago (and places like Mexico) show that it has been of no help at all.

    The most common age of murderers in Chicago is 17 and 18 years old. Not old enough to legally buy a handgun. Tell me again how a new gun control law will help?

    • So, again, I’m talking about reducing the amount of guns that flood the streets. These guns come from outside the city and can be gotten here for as little as $15 by just about anybody.

      • R.E. Naess

        Can you source any verifiable statistics to confirm yur allegation that guns can be bought for $15 by just about anybody? If so what kind and caliber of guns?

      • Mako_Dragoon

        If it’s true that you can buy an illegal gun for $15 on the street, then I don’t see how any additional restrictions to lawful gun owners will work where the byzantine Chicago laws have failed to help.

        Asking for more gun control where gun control has continued to fail the citizens of Chicago is a misdirection that keeps us from solving the real problems of Chicago. Crime and violence is a symptom, the problem is low education and lawful employment levels.

    • And yes, that’s largely how I understand reparations.

      • Mako_Dragoon

        Many other people believe reparations should be made to the african-american community in the same way they are made to the native american community. Continuing generation after generation forever.

  • woss

    last statement in the first paragraph:”Because, make no mistake, the shooting violence and the economic violence are very much tied together, and racial violence is the central factor.” Racial violence is the central factor??? Really? when the violence is 80% blacks shooting blacks…Are you crazy? And you want investment in communities like Roseland etc… I remember when you could walk to the corner store at night and not get killed. These people who moved there made it what it is today. Who would invest in a neighborhood where the people there cant wait for a next victim???

  • CheefKeef300585858

    Cheef Keef for Mayor!! #300Gang #OBlah #KeefMoney