He would know, Edward Acevedo, the Illinois State Representative for Chicago’s 2nd district. Violence on the streets of Chicago are not a theory to this former police officer. Acevedo was decorated for bravery after running into a burning building to save lives. In 2011, someone pointed a gun at him from a van while walking in his southside neighborhood. After announcing his office the gunman sped away.
The neighborhood is adjacent to some of the most notorious and violent areas of the city. The incident illustrates the issue of gun violence in Chicago. As a veteran officer who has seen that crime first hand, and who knows the painful truths about where guns come from in Chicago, Acevedo has championed sweeping and targeted legislation that extends beyond Chicago’s porous borders.
And that is the ultimate key to this issue. The gun pornographers propagate the drumbeat about Chicago’s strict gun laws. In truth, at least until recent assaults by the NRA and gun lobby pornographers to dial back gun laws in favor of conceal-carry, Chicago did maintain some of the strictest laws in the nation. The gun pornographers would argue that since they have not stopped Chicago’s gun violence, that gun laws simply don’t work. That would be true if Chicago was surrounded by a giant wall, with restricted access, and produced its own guns. It is not, obviously, and therein lies the problem.
“I’m more convinced than ever there is no place for weapons of war in our communities,” Acevedo told the House Judiciary Committee in February. Though assault weapon represent a relatively small number of gun homicides in Chicago, they are recovered in alarmingly large numbers. Chicago authorities confiscated 277 assault weapons last year from Chicago streets. An assault weapons ban is supported by the Chicago Police Department, hardly a knee-jerk liberal organization. There were 433 gun murders in Chicago in 2012, 361 were with hand guns.
The concensus of those who are serious about stemming the blood tide in Chicago agree that it must be a multi-faceted approach. Simply banning assault weapons in Chicago or the state is hardly the answer, but it is part of the answer.
Acevedo has also introduced legislation to close significant loopholes traffickers use, such as failing to report stolen guns. HB 1855, which has faced significant opposition from gun pornographers, introduces penalties for anyone failing to report a gun stolen within 72 hours. 72 hours! If my car is stolen I’m on the phone instantly. If someone steals a juice box from my lunch at work I’m upset. Who can’t get around to reporting a gun stolen for three days? These would be the people who describe themselves as responsible gun owners?
Celebrated on the Right wing talk shows this week, Republican Rep. Jim Sacia, a former FBI agent from thriving metropolis of Pecatonica countered, “We’re trying to pass a bill to make us feel good, and it isn’t going to do a thing,” he added. “I deer hunt with an assault weapon.” Perhaps a reference to his eyeglass prescription strength, indicating that unlike true hunters that try and bring down an animal humanely with a single shot-as I was trained to do-Sacia waould riddle them in a hail of bullets.
The key to the gun problem in Chicago is not the irresponsible ignorance of Sacia to properly comprehend the gun issue. Issue number one is the short term effort to stem the flow of guns into the city. They aren’t produced in Chicago, and the vast majority of confiscated guns, according to the Chicago Police and even the FBI, Sacia’s old employer, are purchased legally and either given or sold to criminals. The second is the most difficult, and will take the greatest effort, and that is restoring hope and jobs and opportunity to these forgotten and neglected communities. Until both are done, and done with determination, the deaths will not stop.
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