This is the second article in our "Building Peace" series in Crain's Chicago Business posted May 31. It was written by Nina Vinik, director of the Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform Program at the Joyce Foundation, and Phil Andrew, director of Violence Prevention Initiatives for the Archdiocese of Chicago. The first piece is here.
Chicago has a gun violence problem because Chicago, like America, has a gun problem.
Where there are more guns and weaker gun laws, there are more firearm deaths and injuries. America has more privately-owned guns per capita than any other country, and its gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than in other developed countries.
In Chicago, police take upward of 8,000 illegal guns off the streets every year. They confiscate the guns and arrest the offenders, but the flood of weaponry continues unabated. Police chiefs will tell you we can't arrest our way out of this problem, that we need to get serious about reducing the flow of guns. They're right.
We know that as many as 60 percent of the guns recovered by Chicago police come from other states with weak gun laws, chiefly Indiana, Wisconsin and Mississippi. But Illinois is not blameless. Our state law is virtually non-existent on regulating the flow of guns.
If you are an employer, you can hire young people at risk. If you are a community leader, you can help improve police-community relations. If you are a health care provider, you can support trauma-informed care to gun violence victims. If you are a funder, you can support any one of these efforts. Whatever you do, your voice matters when you speak up in support of policies that can make our neighborhoods safer. Reach out to learn more.