Chicago’s Murder Epidemic Complicates Obama Gun Ban Pitch

“Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness…”

-- Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago.”

How tough are Chicago’s gun laws?

A 55-year-old woman who works as a researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago was jailed this week for bringing a pistol -- licensed, unloaded and in a case – to her office.

The woman, who also holds an “Illinois firearm owners registration card,” told Chicago police that she had brought the handgun, recently purchased for home defense, to her workplace because she did not want to leave it at her residence while a work crew was there doing a renovation project.

But Chicago has perhaps the toughest gun laws in the nation and carrying the weapon, even without ammunition, is a serious offense.

A co-worker spotted the pistol case and called police who came and snatched up the information specialist from her workplace. The Chicago Tribune reports that the woman was held on $25,000 bond pending trial and placed on leave by the university.

Not too far away on the city’s West Side, Chicago Police were having less luck in dealing with another crime that day than they did with the case of the pistol packing information specialist.

An unidentified male was found stabbed to death in an alleyway, marking the 50th murder in the city so far this year. The victim was later identified as a 22-year-old from across town in Calumet City, but given the low rate at which the city’s 535 murders last year were solved, it looks unlikely that police will soon be identifying the one who did the stabbing.

President Obama is back in his hometown today to make another pitch for his “cradle to career” educational initiatives. But while he’s in town, the president will surely have to address the murder epidemic that has gripped the city.

It’s not that Chicago rivals murder wastelands like New Orleans or Detroit, but what’s happening is very alarming for locals. While murder rates in the nation continue to decline, Chicago has seen sharp increases. While murder rates in New York dropped to an all time low last year, Chicago was approaching numbers not seen since the crack wars of the early 1990s.

So why is Chicago unraveling while New York is stabilizing? It’s hard to say exactly, but the city’s mayor, a former congressman, a former chief of staff to Obama and a potential future presidential contender, believes he knows. Rahm Emanuel has gone to war on guns.

Emanuel is doing everything he can to get the guns out of his city, taking up the cause with new vigor following the mass shooting in Connecticut last year.


But as the jailed University of Illinois at Chicago researcher can attest, the gun laws are already pretty darn stiff. Remember, it’s not as if the police discovered the mix up and told her to take her gun home, they took her to jail for having a licensed, registered weapon that without ammunition was only about as deadly as a desktop stapler.

And one could hardly blame her for her recent purchase of the weapon given the deteriorating security situation in her neighborhood and the city at large. It’s not just murders. Shootings, robberies and other crimes are all up in the city, with shopkeepers and homeowners demanding protection.

As for her ignorance of the city’s gun laws, well, one supposes she understands now.

Emanuel urgently needs to stem the crime wave in his city. His political future and the city’s economic fate depend on erasing the growing perception of Chicago returning to its most lawless days, the era of Cabrini-Green and the crack wars. And at the very least he needs to demonstrate that it is gun makers who are more to blame than he, whose mayoralty has coincided with the crime wave.

The question for the president is whether he can make the case that a national gun ban would be effective in reducing murder rates given the results in Chicago.

And Now, A Word From Charles

“This isn't just any new entitlement. It's an entitlement that we know the $7 billion a year that we spend on Head Start doesn't make any difference after the third grade. There is a study that HHS has done that shows that. It's a failure, and yet he wants to double down to make it universal.  That is probably a definition of a liberal.”

-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on Catch Chris Live online daily at 11:30amET  at