Just last weekend, a veteran Chicago law enforcement officer said he was hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court would strike down the city's longstanding handgun ban because it would help address the city's intractable gang problem.
"That way everybody would be able to carry a gun,'' said the veteran officer, who patrols the border of West Englewood, one of the city's deadliest neighborhoods, and spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal. "Gang bangers will think twice about robbing people because they won't know if they are carrying a weapon, too.''
On Monday, the officer got his wish. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment's guarantee of an individual's right to bear arms applies to state and local gun laws, according to The New York Times.
To the dismay of Mayor Richard M. Daley and Police Superintendent Jody Weis, the ruling essentially renders Chicago's handgun ban unenforceable. For years, the two have fought to rid the streets of guns, saying they contribute to gang warfare. Just recently, police said gangs were mostly responsible for a paroxysm of violence that left 10 people dead and 44 shot (including a baby girl) across the city one recent summer weekend.
So far this year, there have been 209 homicides, a number the city didn't see until July last year, according to RedEye, a Tribune service that tracks homicides in the city. Police attribute much of the bloodshed to gang violence.
"It is a well-known fact that Chicago gang members are better armed than Chicago police officers,'' said the law enforcement veteran, who has 20 years on the force, "but they are not engaged in warfare with us. They are shooting each other. Unfortunately, these bullets don't have names on them. They hit whoever's in their path. They don't care. They shoot and run. We don't catch them because they know that by the time we get there, they will be gone because we do not have enough officers to respond to calls fast enough.''
And Chicago gangsters are a force to be reckoned with. Who could forget Jeff Fort, the infamous 1960s and '70s gang leader who led the Black P Stone Nation, also known as the El Rukns? He reportedly purchased a handheld rocket launcher as part of a plot to perform acts of terrorism in the United States on behalf of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, said Craig Sautter, visiting faculty for the School for New Learning at DePaul University in Chicago.
"Gang violence in Chicago is a continuation of a history of youth violence that occurs in all urban centers in the U.S.,'' Sautter said. "Mayor Daley is right about gun control. You have to start somewhere.''