The sad reality is that while terrible mass shootings like the ones at Aurora and Newtown shock the nation’s conscience, pull at the public’s heartstrings, and garner wall-to-wall media coverage, they represent a tiny fraction of the number of gun homicides in the country every year.
Consider this, Mr. President: During the first 16 days of January, 26 people have been killed by guns in Chicago — the exact same number as at Sandy Hook Elementary School. By the time this year is out, the south and west sides of the city we both call home will have endured, in terms of sheer numbers of people killed, the equivalent of 20 Sandy Hook massacres. That’s on top of the equivalent of the 19 Sandy Hooks the city experienced in 2012.
Yet there has been little outcry by the national media, and not much public attention paid to Chicago’s crucible by either national political party. Just the sterile news stories in the local papers every morning recounting the details of yet another young person’s life cut short and another family ripped apart thanks to senseless violence.
The other sad reality, Mr. President, is that almost nothing proposed this week in Washington, D.C., by your administration will do anything to stem the tide of gun violence in our inner cities. Most of these crimes were not committed with semi-automatic assault weapons, they weren’t committed by the mentally ill, and they won’t be stopped by universal background checks.
If you are serious about doing everything in your power to curb gun violence and save lives, then you must harness your immense popularity in Chicago — and in other big cities — to address the elephant in the room: the failures of a society grown coarsened, desensitized to violence, and too tolerant of such carnage.