Chicago Searches For Ways to End Gun Violence

Garry McCarthy and a panel of officials talk about gun violence in Chicago and how to end it.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In a city where "snitching" remains a dirty word in the face of relentless gun violence, Chicago's top cop is looking to state legislation to help break the cycle.

    During a Chicago Ideas Week panel discussion on Thursday, Supt. Garry McCarthy again called for tougher gun laws and lamented the unspoken code of silence that keeps shootings and gang-related murders from being solved.

    "Kids are not going to listen to me," McCarthy said. "There are certain people who are going to have an impact, like Derrick Rose. ... If you’re a victim or a witness, you’re not snitching.”

    Ahead of the panel, Ideas Week solicited social-media feedback on the question, “What if Chicago could get illegal guns off the streets?” About 300,000 Twitter users responded with answers ranging from loosening gun controls to addressing parenting. 

    McCarthy said 85 percent of Chicago deaths are from gun shots, and though the city has some of the toughest gun laws in the country there have been 400 gun-related deaths here this year alone.

    “We need to understand where the guns are coming from,” he said. "We should require gun owners to report if their guns are stolen."

    The panel offered up other solutions to the problem: reduce private sales by licensed gun dealers, reduce the amount of stolen guns, reduce the number of buyers with clean records who turn guns over to prohibited buyers and require background checks for buyers.

    But McCarthy said a cultural change needs to be made as well.

    Pointing to parts of a local rap scene that puts guns on a pedestal, he said pop culture influences children, especially when there’s an absence of a father figure.

    "On social media and in these raps ... he’s talking about violence and really taunting people,” McCarthy said of Chicago rapper Chief Keef.

    Keef was brought up several times as the panel discussed his comments about revenge on Twitter and in his lyrics. "[Chief Keef says], 'That’s the only way I can do it is get a gun. I can get a gun in five minutes,'” said Michael Skolnik, political director to Russell Simmons.

    Skolnik said he conducted high school studies that showed kids really can get a gun in five minutes, and that's a problem.

    An even bigger barrier to changing that? When anyone can get a gun on the corner, but they won't tell you what corner or who they got the weapon from, said panelist Nina Vinik of the Joyce Foundation. They know who has a gun, they know who killed people, they just won't tell.