Chicago has hit 500 homicides after another deadly weekend. Anti-gun groups claim that Indiana's gun laws are responsible for Chicago's record-crime, but this isn't true. The driver of crime rests with repeat offenders. From the Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson:
“The Chicago Police Department is doing its part in terms of arresting people with guns. Where we're losing it is holding those repeat gun offenders accountable for what they do.”
Also (bold my emphasis):
Johnson wants tougher sentencing laws that target felons arrested with guns. And on Thursday he urged lawmakers to call a special session of the state legislature and take action before more lives are lost in the gang wars.
“If we need to go to Springfield, I'm on the first thing smoking going down there, because the longer we wait, the more people we'll see being shot and killed on our streets,” Johnson told me during a recording of my podcast, The Chicago Way, on WGN Plus.
“Until repeat gun offenders recognize we're serious about holding them accountable, we're going to continue to see this gun violence,” Johnson said. “There's a sense of urgency with me. And the sooner we can get this done, the better. I don't know what we're waiting for.”
Johnson said that the vast majority of Chicago's violence is from a group of 1,400 repeat prohibited possessors:
Police have pointed the blame at gang members, many of whom have rap sheets and have committed repeat offenses using illegal guns.
Nearly 40 percent of suspects arrested for homicide in 2015 had prior arrests for gun crimes, according to a study by the University of Chicago cited by police.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said earlier last month that about 1,400 people—many of them affiliated with gangs—are driving 85 percent of the city's gun violence.
No one can lawfully buy a gun in another state if they are prohibited from purchasing a firearm in their state of residence. Law-abiding people are not selling guns to Chicago gang members, who are committing crimes with illegally acquired and illegally carried handguns (I covered extensively in Hands Off My Gun). Law-abiding FFLs are not sending guns to gang members in Chicago. What the anti-gun crowd such as Moms Demand allege is already a felony.
With more than 500 homicides in Chicago in 2012, targeting repeat offenders is a top priority for law enforcement.
“We do have a younger group of kids that are serious repeat offenders. We know as criminologists that repeat offenders account for a much larger percentage of the violent crime,” said Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum, professor of criminal justice and psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
More than 200 people have been arrested for homicides that happened in Chicago in 2012 and 15-percent were 14-to-17 years old. Out of the adults, at least 90-percent had an arrest history in Chicago and more than a third of them were previously charged with weapons-related offenses, according to police data.
The problem isn't the law, the problem is that judges keep reducing sentences, allowing for the release of repeat offenders, that police continue to catch and re-catch. Says Johnson:
Johnson had a message for judges as well.
“Help us out in this fight,” he said. “If they are repeat gun offenders, clearly slapping them on the wrist isn't gonna help. We have to remove these individuals off the street until such time they indicate that they want to be productive members of society. But until then, if they (are) repeatedly committing gun offenses, then we need to hold them accountable.”
One part of that approach, Foxx said, should concentrate on straw purchasers, or someone with a clean record who buys a gun for someone else. [Kim] Foxx said there were only three arrests last year in Chicago for straw purchasing.
I agree with Johnson. Action is most definitely needed where it concerns sentencing these repeat offenders. Barack Obama is part of this problem. Right before Aldridge was murdered the President commuted the sentences of another 111 felons, 16 of which were serving sentences from federal gun crimes. Previously our Gun Control President commuted the sentences of 56 felons convicted of gun charges. Obama's judges slap wrists for felonies like straw purchasing (which resulted in the murder of a police officer heading for maternity leave).
It's not a “better gun law” that would have saved Aldridge's life, Sorrells serving his full sentence for his previous gun crime conviction would have saved her. Derren Sorrells was described as a “career gun offender” on parole a mere 14 days for his previous felony conviction. His sentence was reduced, why? His ankle bracelet was deactivated so he could work and instead of working he chose instead to murder a mother strolling her newborn baby alongside her older child on their way to school. Sorrells and his brother Darwin were known gang members.
Where the Chicago Sun-Times, Johnson, and others get it wrong is the idea that new laws are needed to make people follow the existing laws. That doesn't make sense. Follow the minimum mandatory and recall judges who issue wrist slaps (like the judge in the case of Vonderrit Meyers who, brought in on a gun charge among others, reduced his bond from $30k to $1k). Stand up to Chicago's community organizer in the White House for releasing lose in your neighborhoods violent felons convicted of gun charges. If you care about police, stop putting their lives in danger by making them catch and re-catch the same repeat offenders because judges refuse to throw the book at these violent criminals.
The men who murdered Nykea Aldridge were repeat offenders on parole. The woman who straw-purchased a firearm that her violent, convicted boyfriend used to murder Omaha Police Officer (and new mom) Kerrie Orozco received a slap on the wrist.
What good are additional, redundant laws if the penalties for existing laws breaking them are so meager that they serve no deterrent for future criminal behavior? Why punish the innocent, law-abiding for the actions of 1,400 criminals in Chicago?
*EDITED TO ADD:
A thought: Why doesn't Johnson push for an Illinois-style Project Exile? By demanding that gun offense charges move to federal court, Virginia ensured that minimum mandatory was met which meant fewer repeat offenders on the streets (Atlanta had something similar called F.A.C.E.5, or “Firearms in Atlanta Can Equal 5 Years in federal prison”). Can you imagine the attention one could generate by showcasing which judges are endangering communities with weak sentencing?