WH: Obama Really Concerned About Chicago’s Shootings, But Doesn’t Know What To Do

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Sep 07, 2016 7:00 PM
WH: Obama Really Concerned About Chicago’s Shootings, But Doesn’t Know What To Do

Justin wrote about the grim milestone Chicago hit over the Labor Day weekend. The Windy City clocked in its 500th homicide. Chicago, a bastion of anti-gun politics, was bound to have a very bad year in terms of its homicide rate and the number of shootings. It had the bloodiest start to the New Year in almost two decades. In August, the city was approaching 2,500 people shot, while 2,998 people were shot in all of 2015, according to the Chicago Tribune.

In Washington, the Obama White House said that the president is worried about what’s happening in his hometown, but has no idea what to do about it. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest mentioned this on August 30 (via Free Beacon):

Asked by NBC’s Ron Allen about the tide of gun violence, Earnest touted national violent crime levels being at or near historic lows, while saying certain communities had experienced a “spike.”

[…]

“But is there anything specific to Chicago that the president has seen and observed, of these various prescriptions, that he thinks specifically deal with—as you point out, crime is down in many places,” Allen said. “It’s spiking in a couple of places, specifically there … When you look at that place, his home town, is there something really more specific that the president thinks should happen like now?”

“Well, I’m not aware of any specific prescription that the president’s prepared to put forward to address the situation just in Chicago,” Earnest said. “I know Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel’s quite focused on that, and I certainly would have a lot of confidence in his ability to work through some of these issues and see if there are some specific local solutions that can be implemented.”

Earnest mentioned how Congress has stalled the president’s gun control proposals, which he says won’t undermine our constitutional rights to own firearms, but make it harder for criminals to get their hands on them. In reality, expanded background checks, the core of the Obama gun agenda, wouldn’t have stopped Chicago’s violence. In fact, gun control proposals might be the least of the city’s problems, as its residents and the police department face unprecedented levels of animosity and distrust. Maybe the solutions resolving Chicago’s endless string of shootings and bloody weekends go beyond legislation, though the city’s anti-gun ethos certainly doesn’t help. Yet, current Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that the city’s violence is a societal issue, not a police one. He also said that over 6,000 illegal firearms have been seized by police (via Chicago Tribune):

After another violent holiday weekend, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Tuesday his department is doing all it can to combat violence rooted in "impoverished neighborhoods" where "people without hope do these kinds of things."

"It's not a police issue, it's a society issue," Johnson told reporters outside police headquarters after a long weekend that saw 65 people shot, 13 of them fatally.

"Impoverished neighborhoods, people without hope do these kinds of things," he said. "You show me a man that doesn't have hope, I'll show you one that's willing to pick up a gun and do anything with it.

"Those are the issues that's driving this violence. CPD is doing its job," he continued.

Johnson pointed to increases in gun arrests this year over last year -- and more than 6,000 illegal gun recoveries so far in 2016 -- as evidence that officers are out on the streets working.

Besides having anti-gun policies that won’t go anywhere in Congress, this is a local matter. Also, we’re approaching the end of the Obama presidency. There might be some senioritis hitting the Obama administration on some issues. Remember when he vowed to change our politics on this issue? Well, so far, it’s been done with relatively weak fervor.