In the current issue of National Review, I have a report from Chicago, the only U.S. city to suffer more than 500 murders in 2012, the great majority of them believed to be gang-related. I touch on the case of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honors student who had recently appeared in an anti-gang video and who had just returned from President Obama’s second inauguration when she was gunned down by gangsters about a mile from President Obama’s home in Chicago.
To nobody’s great surprise, we now learn that the young man who has confessed to the shooting after his arrest was on probation for a weapons violation at the time of the crime. Like the majority of murderers in most large U.S. cities (and about half the murder victims), 18-year-old Michael Ward already had a criminal history at the time of the shooting.
Chicago is very proud of the fact that it leads the nation in the number of firearms seizures it manages each year. Unfortunately, it also leads the nation in the related category of seizing firearms and not doing a damned thing about it.
Chicago’s problem is not a lack of gun control; the city and the state maintain very strict gun-control policies. Chicago’s problem is that it has incompetent criminal-justice agencies and corrupt police. The president will be going to Chicago this week to talk about the city’s violence, and he will talk about it in tonight’s imperial State of the Union pageant. To possess a firearm illegally in Illinois is, if I am reading the law correctly, a Class 4 felony. Perhaps the president might take a break for tonight’s cheap theater and ask his old chief of staff, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, the awkward question of why exactly Michael Ward was allowed to be walking the streets at the time of Miss Pendleton’s murder.