At City Journal Rafael Mangual points out the uncomfortable fact that in Chicago last weekend six mass shooting took place and they didn’t get the sort of attention that has been devoted to mass shootings in schools. There are all sorts of reasons for it. Homicide on the South Side of Chicago has become a “dog bits man” story. The victims aren’t highly photogenic and sympathetic white middle class kids.
But I think he’s right in suggesting that one of the reasons is that the shootings don’t fit comfortably into the story that journalists want to tell. Chicago’s problems won’t be solved by tighter gun control:
Calls for stricter gun-control laws follow every high-profile mass shooting; the weekend’s carnage in Chicago prompted similar demands from civic leaders and pundits. Yet the city has strict gun laws, and even when police enforce those laws diligently, the city’s liberal anti-gun caucus doesn’t always back them up. Consider the case of Harith Augustus, whom Chicago police approached on suspicion that he was unlawfully armed. Augustus resisted detainment and, as can be seen in the body cam video released by the city, grabbed for what turned out to be an illegally concealed firearm, prompting officers to fire their weapons, killing him. Though Augustus did not have a conceal-carry permit, and clearly reached for his weapon before officers opened fire, his death resulted in violent protests and articles characterizing Chicago as an “abusive police state.”
Another inconvenient fact that Chicago’s liberal critics of guns and police don’t talk about much is the rampant crime committed by repeat offenders. In all likelihood, the perpetrators of this weekend’s violence have extensive criminal records. It’s hard not to sympathize with the city’s top cop, Eddie Johnson, who last year told the Tribune, “it’s the repeat offenders that consistently come back in our neighborhoods and shoot and kill, and if we don’t send a message that we are serious about holding them accountable, then what are we doing?” Incarceration critics argue that lengthy sentences don’t deter crime or rehabilitate prisoners, but because so much violent crime is committed by recidivists, keeping dangerous felons off the street for as long as possible is a public-safety imperative.
His solution is tougher law enforcement and longer sentences for repeat violators. I don’t think that will address the underlying pathologies which include poor job prospects, hopelessness, and lack of stable families. The unemployment rate in the areas where the homicides are taking place is a multiple of the national average and among the demographic perpetrating the crimes two to three times that.
As long as journalists are afraid or otherwise unwilling to tell the truth about the problems in Chicago, it’s unclear to me how or why they will be addressed.