The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Obama to Discuss Guns in Chicago


This is a good thing:

President Barack Obama will visit Chicago on Friday, when he will discuss gun violence as he focuses on his economic message from Tuesday’s State of the Union address, according to the White House.

Obama will “talk about the gun violence that has tragically affected too many families in communities across Chicago and across the country,” a White House official said in a statement.

The president’s visit answers calls from Chicago anti-violence activists that Obama talk about the recent spate of gun violence in the city, several of the activists said.

“This is an important issue,” said Cathy Cohen, founder of the Black Youth Project, which attracted about 45,000 signatures by Sunday night in an online petition that urges Obama to speak up. “We think of this as a victory for all of us.”

The cover story of National Review is currently Kevin Williamson’s “Gangsterville,” about the violence plaguing the city.

The question is, will President Obama address how Chicago and Illinois have adopted the president’s preferred policy solution to this problem — some of the strictest state and local gun-control laws in the United States — only to see the violence worsen?

The traditional argument from the gun-control groups is that their laws work just fine, as long as they’re adopted everywhere on earth, or at least the country. Our Robert VerBruggen examined the “guns come from surrounding areas” theory a week ago:

. . . the communities these guns come from typically have much lower crime rates than Chicago does.

If we were to spread Chicago’s gun control outward, the city’s gangs would need to get weapons that were originally sold farther away. But would fewer guns actually make it into the city? Given that America has something like 300 million guns, and that guns are easy to conceal and transport, I rather doubt it.

Frankly, I don’t think gun control has much to do with Chicago’s murder problem. It seems to be mostly gang-related, which means that (A) any guns that can’t be bought legally will be bought illegally and (B) arming the law-abiding won’t make much difference either, because the violence is taking place between criminals. We still should arm the law-abiding, so that they may defend themselves against burglaries and the like, but they are rarely the victims of gang murders.

The horrific violence in cities is oftentimes a gang problem, and a sentencing problem as repeat offenders get off with short prison sentences. One study of 35 years’ worth of crime data in Ohio “found that about 69 percent of weapons offenses appeared to be dismissed before reaching a court for a decision. Another 28.5 percent of weapons charges that reached the prosecution stage were dismissed, likely because of plea bargains to other crimes.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Chicago , Gun Control , Guns


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