Reports have come in that 500 Americans have been killed in one city this year alone.
At least 2,718 people have been shot and 500 were reported dead, according to the Chicago Tribune. These 500 deaths mark the number of people killed this year by routine gun violence in a city that has been plagued with death for quite a while.
The 500th deceased shooting victim was a man named Juan Bahena Jr. He was in his car when he became the victim of a drive-by shooting on Sunday. He was struck in the neck, thigh, and buttocks, and succumbed to his injuries at Stroger Hospital.
One woman who lives in the neighborhood, Karen Leahy, said she had been enjoying how calm the city seemed lately. “I was just saying how we hadn’t had any gang activity or shootings. I thought it was getting better.”
Ray, who wouldn’t give his last name out of concerns for gang retribution, said gunshots are common, but he hadn’t seen a homicide like this. “This is the first time I’ve seen something like this … We’ve heard gunshots in the past few weeks but nothing like this.”
This seemingly random killing is unfortunately considered the norm in a city struggling to bring down the level of violence. CBS reports that the Fourth of July weekend saw the worst of the violence with at least 100 people shot in four days.
City officials and law enforcement have been working tirelessly to curb the violence by taking guns out of the hands of local gangs. As of early August, more than 5,000 guns had been taken off the streets.
According to NBC, many Democrats believe the problem in Chicago lies with lax gun laws and that lawmakers have failed to deliver new gun control legislation in the past four years. Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) claimed the violence was a result of House Republicans ignoring the issue and efforts to “silence” those advocating stricter gun laws.
But the problem with Chicago gun violence is that illegally obtained guns are readily available on the streets. Removing legally owned guns from local residents would make the situation more dangerous.
One resident, Aaron Murph, told CBS that people need guns to feel safe “I know people who can’t walk from [their] house to the store without a gun. Because people getting killed left and right. It’s sad.”
The violence committed by gangs is so bad that gang members of the South Side crew even stated the only reason they had illegal weapons was for self-defense. The gang members said they were willing to get caught by police with an illegally owned gun rather than have their rivals discover they were unarmed.
One of them said, “I’m just doin’ this s**t for survival bro, until I can pull my family and myself in a better predicament to what I need to do. We just trying to keep ourselves better protected.”
500 deaths mark the number of people killed this year by routine gun violence in Chicago. Is stricter gun control the answer?
When one member was asked if he’d be willing to get rid of his gun, he said he wouldn’t consider it until after the violence stopped. “Put the guns down? Probably would happen. Maybe in the near future. No time right now. I don’t want to put my gun down.”
He went on to say guns were needed for protection and those without weapons are often targeted. “’Nine times out of ten the innocent ones get hurt, you know what I’m saying? If they come do a shooting right now we probably won’t even get shot. And we got guns. You might get shot. That’s how f****d up it is, you know? But it’s survive or be killed.”
The killings in Chicago mark a much deeper problem the city is facing. Tackling the issue of illegal gun trafficking and cracking down on the more violent gangs is needed to stop the violence in Chicago.