Gun lobby can be defeated to help curb mass shootings

JESSE L. JACKSON SR. | 10/26/2015, 7:38 a.m.
Each Monday in Chicago, we gird ourselves for the most recent score.

Each Monday in Chicago, we gird ourselves for the most recent score. Not on how well the Bears, Bulls or Blackhawks, Cubs or White Sox have fared, but on how many new victims of guns have been racked up. Two weekends ago, three were killed with 17 other shooting victims, according to CBS News.

Victims of gun shootings are spiking in Chicago and in cities across the country. From 2014 to 2015 to date, the murder rate in Milwaukee is up 76 percent. In St. Louis, it’s up 60 percent, in Baltimore up 56 percent, and in the nation’s capital, up 44 percent. Chicago is up “only” 20 percent, but the numbers are staggering – from 244 to 294 to date.

Someone in Chicago has been shot every 2.84 hours this year, a total of 2,349 shootings from Jan. 1 to Oct. 6, according to the Chicago Tribune tally. Over five years, Chicago police report 12,814 shootings and 2,583 murders, according to a chart provided to me by the Chicago Police Department. We lost nearly as many people in Chicago alone as we lost on 9/11.

Nearly 9 of 10 murders (89 percent) are from gunshots. Eight of 10 victims are African American males. The guns are not made in Chicago.

The Chicago police recover about 7,000 illegal guns annually – more than any other city.

What we have here is a national security emergency. There is national mourning for the victims of the mass killing at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. But Chicago is experiencing an Umpqua almost every week.

Too many illegal guns are in circulation, from handguns to military assault rifles. These guns are powerful enough not only to shoot up churches and schools but to bring down airplanes. Too many legal guns are in the wrong hands. Too many young men use guns rather than reason to settle disputes, bullets rather than accomplishment to establish their manhood.

President Obama has spoken out forcefully against gun violence, but his proposed reforms have been dead on arrival in the Congress, unable even to come to a vote.

His most recent comments have despaired that yet another slaughter brings no action.

It is time to increase both the heat and the light. Obama should convene a White House Conference on Gun Violence. That commission should detail reforms needed to begin to address the epidemic of gun violence and call the nation to action. The reforms can’t be limited to closing gun show loopholes or other gun law reforms. The Department of Homeland Security should be there, detailing the threat posed by the spread of guns designed for the military, not for hunters.

We need to crack down on illegal gun ownership, with harsh penalties for repeat offenders. We should be jailing those who traffic in illegal guns, while reducing sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. There should be a push to revive the ban on assault weapons once more. It is ridiculous that weapons designed for war are spread across American streets.