Bianca Renteria ’17

Below is a message my former teacher from my High School recently posted, as it perfectly embodies the importance of education not only to our students, but also for the people who judge those students for where they come from. It demonstrates determination for a better future, and that is worth noting and admiring.

Nizar

Therefore, I call for a new gun law solution.

If there were something that Democrats and Republicans do not agree with, other than almost everything, it would be gun control. The second amendment is a pressing issue, with conservative republicans doing everything in their fiber to preserve it and progressive democrats attempting anything possible to keep the NRA from exploiting it. In light of recent events, (and I am not talking about Trump condoning his supporters to exercise their 2nd amendment rights at Hillary Clinton), I am talking about the token example for gun control and gun violence, my beautiful city of Chicago.

Politicians have used Chicago as the staple city for gun violence, and when most people think of Chicago they think Chiraq, a term I am uncomfortable with hearing and even using. I cannot begin to tell you the amount of times someone at St. Olaf has asked me if I was from “Chiraq”, it’s troubling. However, such negative attitude and language used to describe a city I grew up in, is heartbreaking. Especially when most people cannot find the true beauty behind the Windy City, when all they see is gun violence.

Growing up on the West Side of Chicago, in a small neighborhood called La Villita (Little Village) and going to school in North Lawndale, gun violence has become a very sensitive issue for me. I unfortunately have come too familiar with the thread of gun violence and have first-handedly witnessed the atrocities it has left behind.  However, I have also witnessed the sense of community and the love that exists among those residents residing in areas of Chicago. Therefore, I love my city and I strive to make it better.

Our President-elect Donald Trump has openly spoken about the gun violence in Chicago, by tweeting, “The most stringent gun laws in the U.S. happen to be in Chicago – and look what is happening there!” So yes, let us have a look at what is happening there,

According to the Chicago Tribune, year to date there have been 749 homicides in Chicago, 672 of them residing from gun violence. Compared to last year, with 468, an increase of 78 percent. In a 2015 report from the City of Chicago, the number one leading cause of death in Chicago between ages 15 to 34 is homicide.

Now let’s take a look at our “stringent gun laws,” — there is no open carry, in order to purchase a firearm one needs an owner identification card, without a need to register the guns. Gun users are allowed to carry a firearm as long as it is concealed, however, prohibited in areas such as schools. As for assault weapons, they are banned after the Blair Holt Assault Weapons ban, so those who purchased an assault weapon before the ban need to disable their arm or hand it to the police. In order for a person from Chicago, to purchase a gun they need to travel outside of the city, since there are no active gun shops within city limits.

Therefore, it is important to note that gun laws in Chicago, while they are not as passive as some from Texas, they mirror similar policies to other major cities in the United States, i.e Los Angeles and New York City.

Let us look at the statistics of neighborhoods (aka the hood) with the highest trends of gun violence, the top 13 are …

‘Hood Average-PCI
Austin $15,957.00
Englewood $11,888.00
Garfield Park $10,934.00
North Lawndale $12,034.00
Humboldt Park $13,781.00
Roseland $17,949.00
New City $12,765.00
Auburn Gresham $15,528.00
South Shore $19,398.00
Chicago Lawn $13,231.00
Little Village $10,402.00
West Pullman $16,563.00
South Chicago $16,579.00

It is extremely important to note that the issue of poverty, poor schooling, and constant cycle of crime is a reality for people living in situations like these, and one cannot begin to understand what it is like to grow up in such conditions. I am not condoning the gun violence, but I am also not laying the blame simply on the “hood.” The systems that were put in place since slavery or Jim Crow (recommended reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander) have only perpetuated and dehumanized those who constantly witness these acts of violence. Unfortunately, many are not as privileged to go off to college and get a college degree; circumstances have made that difficult or even impossible. Therefore, the City of Chicago and mayor Rahm Emanuel should invest in the people and not simply on the aesthetic of Chicago. Chicago is not Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the Bean, Sears Tower, or any other point of interest one sees on a tourist guide, Chicago is all the wonderful people and the historical neighborhoods that spew endless stories and beauty.

Other Possible Solutions

  1. Implement gun control education programs in schools
  2. Propose further funding for youth programs
  3. Implementing stricter gun laws
    1. Register all guns
    2. Require extensive background checks