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Why Is Chicago So Violent?

103 people were shot in Chicago over the four-day 4th of July weekend. 19 of them died of their gunshots. That doesn’t yet count the number of victims who where shot early Monday morning. This barely qualifies as news since it happens over and over in Chicago. Over the 4th, a large fractions of the murder in the entire United States were in Chicago. (and here) That means that violence isn’t a nationwide problem, but a localized problem. Why is Chicago so violent?

It is an important question since we are not all the same. Most counties won’t have a single murder of any kind, let a alone murder with a firearm. Said another way, there are safe areas and dangerous areas in Chicago. Cook County that contains Chicago is less violent than Chicago. Illinois is less violent than Cook County. In a real sense, violent crime in the US is dominated by a few zip codes in our failed cities. Most of the United States works well, but some of our cities are broken. Why is that?

Chicago is controlled by the Democrat party. The last Republican Mayor in Chicago was elected in the 1920s. Illinois is controlled by the Democrat party. It voted Democrat in the last eight presidential elections. Some Democrat controlled cities succeed, yet it seems that our failed cities have a history of Democrat control. State and local policies have driven employers out of Illinois for decades. On a larger scale, you can say the same thing about California. There are other similarities. California politics is controlled by the teachers union. So is Chicago.

It is no surprise that state employee unions put their members first. They focus on pay rate, pension funds, and working conditions over what happens to the state in a decade. That isn’t what they say, but that is certainly true about what they do. Politicians seldom look beyond the next election. Special interests feed that short term thinking. Chicago now pays more in interest payments on its debts than it pays for public safety, i.e. for police and fire.

It isn’t the guns. Illinois as a state, and the city of Chicago in particular, make it unusually hard for honest citizens to protect themselves with a firearm. It isn’t the gun-control laws. Until recently, there were no gun stores and shooting ranges in Chicago due to zoning regulations. Illinois is rated as the 4th state in the US based on the severity of its gun-control laws. Only California, Connecticut, and New Jersey have stricter gun-control laws than Illinois. Illinois should be a peaceful paradise if disarming honest citizens reduced violent crime. It must be something larger at work.

We can take another perspective. It was only five or six years ago when crime dropped across the entire United States. Crime dropped in our Democrat controlled cities as well. Remember back then that the unemployment rate dropped and people were at work. Our borders were closed and it was harder for drug gangs to import drugs across the border. Rates of addiction fell.

Jobs play an essential part, but there are a thousand ways to fail. It was more than a strong economy that made our failed cites safer. We did that once so we can do that again. That said, we don’t get new solutions by doing what our failed cities have been doing for decades. I hope we’re wise enough to succeed again.

Isn’t that what the 4th of July is all about?

Rob Morse

Rob Morse works and writes in Southwest Louisiana. He writes at Ammoland, at his Slowfacts blog, and here at Clash Daily. Rob co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast, and hosts the Self-Defense Gun Stories Podcast each week.