Gun violence in Chicago is always a hot-button political topic and for good reason. Rampant gun violence has plagued Chicago’s streets for decades.
But in political circles, the topic is rarely discussed in terms of how to actually solve the city’s gun problem.
Instead, it’s used by Republicans to gin up fear among conservatives when discussing Black and brown communities. Despite conservative fearmongering on crime in Democrat-led cities and states, Chicago’s gun violence is slowly beginning to decrease.
According to ABC News, shootings in Chicago were down 20% through the end of summer. Homicides were also down 16% during the same period, and 101 fewer people were shot this summer as compared to last.
Homicides in the nation’s 50 largest cities were also down nearly 5% from last year after two years of pandemic-era increases.
In an interview with ABC News, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown discussed the reasons for the slight but welcoming decline. Brown accredited some of their success in combating gun violence to community engagement as well as an improved method of deployment of officers to crime-ridden areas.
“It’s the most complex policing landscape ever in this country’s history,” Brown told ABC News. “We are making progress, but the complexities make it such that it is so fragile. The ebbs and flows of violence are persistent.”
Brown also told ABC News that the Chicago Police have been taking about 12,000 guns off the city’s streets every year, including “ghost guns” or unregistered firearms, but admitted he didn’t think they, “were even chipping away” at the ghost gun problem.
Brown says his team will continue to fight against gun violence but stressed that policing is only one part of the solution.
“We’re talking about policing, but this is about economic development,” he told ABC News. “This is about poverty. This is about, in many instances, race.”
It’s also about messaging and empathy. For far too long Republicans have used Chicago’s struggle with gun violence as a tool to demonize the Black people who live there, furthering the empathetic divide.
Through their social media talk shows and right-wing AM stations, conservatives use misinformation to convince their constituents that gun violence is a Black problem when in reality it’s an American problem we all should be invested in.
An October study by Reboot, which surveyed 350 people between the ages of 18 and 74, found that more than 40% of the participants said they use “independent news outlets, like podcasts, YouTubers, or newsletters and websites that are not affiliated with a mainstream news organization.” Sixteen percent said they ask friends and family members, while 13% said they ask their social media friends and networks for help. Folks just aren’t getting the truth.
If you need an example of a Republican using crime as a fearmongering tactic and false narratives to gin up votes, look no further than Ron Johnson’s first debate against Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin’s senate race.
During the debate, Barnes called out the Senator for his hypocrisy on crime and policing when it came to the Jan. 6 riots.
It is obvious Republicans don’t mind using misinformation to create the narratives they believe will win them elections. In the meantime, local officials in cities like Chicago continue to try to solve real issues that affect real people.