Gun violence killed 11 Chicago residents and injured 50 more, including two teenage girls, during Christmas weekend. The shootings came just days after a Brennan Center report concluded the homicide rate in the nation’s biggest cities jumped 14 percent in 2016 – due in large part to gun violence spiraling out of control in Chicago.
According to the Chicago Tribune, which closely tracks shootings in the city, seven people were killed on Christmas Day. The total number of shootings over the holiday weekend was also significantly higher than on the past two Christmas holidays. There were 29 people gunned down in 2015 and 35 people shot in 2014. Fourteen of them died.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson attributed the recent shootings to gang violence in the “South and West sides of the city.”
“These were deliberate and planned shootings by one gang against another,” he said. “They were targeted knowing fully well that individuals would be at the homes of family and friends celebrating the holidays. This was followed by several acts of retaliation.”
While Chicago is known for large-scale gun violence, the number of shootings skyrocketed in 2016. Roughly 770 homicides occurred this year, outnumbering homicides in Los Angeles and New York City combined. With four days left in the year, there have been approximately 4,300 shootings recorded by the Tribune in 2016, compared to 2,989 in 2015.
In 2016, there were more homicides in Chicago than in any other year since 1998.
Released days before the holiday weekend, the Brennan Center’s latest report confirmed that Chicago homicides in 2016 are responsible for 43.7 percent of the shootings that drove up the homicide rate in the 30 largest U.S. cities.
On Dec. 20, Johnson wrote an op-ed for USA Today in which he pleaded with residents to assist with community policing and condemned illegal guns in the hands of violent criminals.
“The biggest difference between Chicago, New York and Los Angeles are the gun laws of our states and the areas immediately surrounding our cities,” he wrote. “There are too many illegal guns on the south and west sides, and part of any solution to Chicago’s crime problem must be to strengthen penalties for the repeat violent offenders carrying those guns. We are working with our allies in the state legislature to accomplish that.”
Research shows that Chicago has strict gun laws, despite the alarming number of shootings. But guns are obtained from people who bring them across state lines and into the city. Firearms are also shared among friends, rather than purchased or stolen.