"Gun-Free" Chicago experiences a 9/11 once every four years

By Gerard Valentino

Chicago is the center of the gun world as all parties involved in the gun debate in America await the Supreme Court ruling on whether the longtime citywide gun ban is constitutional. Sadly, if there is a city that would benefit from more permissive gun laws for law-abiding citizens it is Chicago.

What many people don't realize is there have been over 13,000 murders in Chicago since the younger Richard Daley was first elected mayor in 1989.

To put that number in perspective, it means since 1989 Chicago has experienced a 9/11 roughly every 4 years, or one 9/11 for each of Daley's terms in office.

Few Chicagoans are immune from the violence that has enveloped the city since everyone seemingly has a relative or very close friend that was a victim of violent crime. It is nearly impossible to live in a culture of murder on the scale seen in Chicago without it directly touching each life. Such a staggering level of murder has, sadly, left people immune to crimes that would outrage inhabitants of other cities due to the never ending parade of murder and mayhem.

Although the murder rate has fluctuated over the last few years, Chicago obviously remains one of the most violent cities in America despite some of the most restrictive gun laws.

Unlike other big cities in America, there are places in Chicago that are off-limits to the police because the area is completely controlled by violent drug gangs. Most notable was the infamous Cabrini Green housing project that was so lawless the police refused to patrol unless they had an overwhelming number of officers on hand. Yet, the law-abiding citizens of Cabrini Green were left to face the armed criminal element without a means of self defense.

Mayor Daley has presided over a mini-renaissance of sorts in the city over the last few years and has torn down many of the old housing complexes that were controlled by drug gangs, including Cabrini Green. Large urban renewal projects have reclaimed parts of the city that were derelict and were a haven for criminals. But, that hasn't made a dent in the murder rate.

Despite all the success, Chicago remains better known for gang and mafia activity than for being a world class tourist destination, offering everything that can be expected of an international city that rivals the best in the world. It is also an eminently livable big city, which makes it a great place to visit and a wonderful place to live.

But one blight on Chicago is considered insurmountable for many who would like to call the city home – a horrific murder rate.

The casual acceptance Chicagoans have for being mugged, raped, robbed or carjacked is startling to anyone not from Chicago, and the fact that murders are treated as commonplace is even more shocking. Someone born in Chicago in 1989 has lived through 13,609 murders. A staggering number that makes up the entire population of many of the small towns that dot the southern part of the state of Illinois.

During his time in office, Mayor Daley has been a staunch proponent of gun control and has often blamed the availability of guns for the city’s violence. But, Chicago has had one of the most restrictive gun bans in place since at least 1982, so entire generations of law-abiding Chicagoans have never known what it's like to legally keep a handgun in their home for self-defense.

Being disarmed, however, is a feeling foreign to Chicago's criminal element, which keeps guns at hand without concern for the law.

Chicago's criminals simply don't fear committing violent crimes, and that is the reason why, in 2003, Chicago "won" the title of Murder City USA by having the highest per capita murder rate. 2003 was also the beginning of the War in Iraq, and since the war started around 4,400 Americans have been killed either in combat or in accidents.

In the same time period 3,367 murders took place in the city of Chicago.

Just the thought of comparing the death toll in a war zone to that of a major Midwestern American city borders on insanity. But, the never ending drumbeat of death in Chicago is the very definition of insanity, and the fact that law-abiding citizens are barred from owning a gun despite the fact that criminals are armed to the teeth is also an insane proposition.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, 4 of the nation's 25 most dangerous neighborhoods are in Chicago with Washington Park holding down the number 2 position on the list. No other city on the list had as many neighborhoods on the list as Chicago. Yet, the law-abiding citizens of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America are banned from owning a handgun for self-defense if they are unlucky enough to live in Chicago.

Hopefully, the United States Supreme Court will rule in favor of Chicago's law-abiding citizens and give them back the right to self defense stolen by people of Mayor Richard Daley's ilk. Empowering citizens to take responsibly for their own safety and allowing them the means to do so might just change the culture of crime in Chicago. Instead of feasting on unarmed victims, violent thugs will have to consider the risk to their own lives if they talk part in a home invasion.

Laws in America should empower the law-abiding, not common thugs. Yet, in Chicago the opposite is true since murderers, rapist and robbers know that to commit their next crime all they have to do is pick a house at random. Knowing the inhabitants are unarmed, and aren't a threat, must be a relief for criminals who probably consider attacking a law-abiding citizen the safest part of their job.

Laws in America are supposed to protect honest citizens while creating a mechanism for punishing criminals. Chicago's gun ban turns that premise upside down by punishing the law-abiding for protecting their home and loved ones from criminal attack.

By thwarting the right of the law-abiding to choose a gun as a tool of self-defense, Chicago's elected officials have set in motion a series of events that led to a 9/11 in the city every four years. They also have created a generation of fearless criminals that have committed countless crimes free from the fear of meeting an armed victim.

We can only hope the U.S Supreme Court will rule in favor of the law-abiding citizens victimized in Chicago and give them back the ability to refuse to be a victim. To do otherwise is to embrace laws that provide for a criminals' safe working environment and will set the stage for keeping Chicago a killing field.

Gerard Valentino is a member of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation Board of Directors and his first book, The Valentino Chronicles – Observations of a Middle Class Conservative, is available through the Buckeye Firearms Association store.

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