The death toll from Chicago's bloody holiday rose on Tuesday to 16 after two men who had been shot over the Fourth of July weekend died from their wounds.
Over the course of 84 hours during the Independence Day holiday in Chicago, 82 people were shot, prompting calls from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to put a stop to gun violence in the city.
Many of the shootings, which began about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, took place in some of the most violent South Side neighborhoods. Five people were reportedly shot by Chicago police, including two who died. The higher death toll was reported Tuesday by the Chicago Tribune.
Speaking to an audience at the Miles Davis Magnet Academy on the city's South Side, Emanuel called for better policing, better education, stronger gun laws and “building a sense of community” to address the city’s gun violence.
“I ask all Chicagoans, regardless of where you live … end the gun violence in our city,” Emanuel said, in video captured by the Sun-Times. “Wherever you are, wherever you live, the gun violence that was part of this weekend is totally unacceptable.”
Chicago has become the poster child for urban violence, fueled by gangs and involving drive-by shootings or attacks from cars on other vehicles. People of all ages have been shot on streets and in some cases while sitting on their porches. The weekend carnage is the greatest spate of gun violence so far this year, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Yet homicides have actually been going down since 2012 when the city surpassed 500. By 2013, the number of homicides had fallen to 415, still the largest in the nation and substantially more than New York City, with less than 350 and Los Angeles at 255. When computed as the number of murders per 100,000 people, Detroit zooms to the top of the heap in a virtual tie with New Orleans. But Chicago still has the largest number of killings.
According to the Chicago Tribune, which keeps a tally of shooting victims, 1,129 have been shot so far this year in Chicago. According to the Tribune, there were 2,185 shooting victims in Chicago last year.
Last week, Chicago police reported that the number of homicides in Chicago fell during the first half of the year compared with the same period last year. This year, Chicago had 172 homicides through June 30 — nine fewer than the same period last year and 82 fewer than during the first six months of 2012.
In 2012, an armed gunman invaded a Colorado movie theater killing 12 and injuring 70. Later in the year, Adam Lanza attacked the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 pupils and six educators before killing himself. Those and other mass murders touched off a call for greater control of gun violence. But Congress generally ignored lobbying by gun-control groups, though some of the states tightened their rules, including limiting the size of ammunition magazines and other steps to hinder the spread of weapons.
On Monday, the gun control group funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced its latest campaign aimed at giving voters information as the nation heads into the mid-term election. The group is sending political candidates 10 questions on gun issues and will use the questionnaire to mobilize what it said will be 1 million Americans who back gun safety measures.
In May, Chicago’s City Council unanimously approved two measures to toughen gun laws. One law clarifies which types of assault weapons are banned.
“Chicago’s violence problem is largely a gun problem,” according to the May measure that toughened the city’s gun laws. “Every year, Chicago police officers take thousands of illegal guns off the street. But, despite these efforts, it remains far too easy for criminals to get their hands on deadly weapons.”
According to the city, from 2009 to 2013, 60% of the guns used to commit crimes in Chicago were originally bought out of state, mainly in Indiana, Mississippi and Wisconsin. Three of the top four sources for guns recovered in Chicago were gun dealers in Illinois cities near Chicago.
Not all of Chicago’s efforts have been successful. In January, a federal judge ruled that an outright ban on gun shops in Chicago was unconstitutional, citing the 2nd Amendment.
“The city of Chicago does not have a problem of too few guns,” Emanuel noted in May. “There are way too many guns from shops in Cook County and from neighboring states that come into the city of Chicago. On any given weekend, our police officers take more guns off the streets than either New York or L.A.”
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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
3:15 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect mayor's comments
July 8, 11:32 a.m.: This story has been updated to reflect higher death toll
This story was first published at 10:20 a.m. on July 7