These Weapons Kill, Don’t They?


What’s the number one killer in Chicago? It’s a gun, of coursecarlos.

The chart of murders last year at DNAinfo’s website make this clear.

But have we told everything we can about guns and violence?

Amid the moves for greater  gun control in Springfield and Chicago, now again seems a moment to think about how guns drive violence.

Here’s a section by a visiting German journalist, writing about guns and violence and the culture that embraces guns. It’s a convenient reminder of the kind of reporting questions that need to be raised, again.

Spending time in Illinois and Indiana gun shops, I was introduced into a subculture where one feels safer with more guns. “Bad guys” will always have guns anyway, so better for “good guys” to be safe than sorry. Where do bad guys get their guns? Of course, not from the shops – although statistics show that of the 7,511 weapons that Illinois police could trace back in 2011, almost 4,000 came from within the state and an additional 1,000 from neighboring Indiana.

But gun shop owners do not want to argue about the travels of a gun. They’d rather talk about how safe guns are if used correctly, and how guns are not at all a threat, but a weapon of self-defense. Everything is a matter of training and safety. Teach your children how to use guns properly just as you teach them how to drive a car. The car analogy is also used quite often when questioning the reason for owning a semi-automatic military style rifle: it’s a matter of choice. Why buy a fast and expensive car when you have a speed limit? Because you can. Why buy an AR-15 with bullets that travel far and can break through walls and therefore might not only hurt an intruder but also your neighbor next door? It’s a matter of choice.

The flaw in this logic: No 8-year old possesses a Porsche 911, but he might own a kid’s rifle and go to shoot-outs at the nearby range with dad on Sunday morning. As one female employee told me, “My 15-year-old son has three guns and I taught him how to shoot and be safe with guns when he was eight.” Of course, the 15-year old does not have a license to legally possess any of these guns, but he claims them anyway.   

And here’s the link to the story:

Beyond guns, what more needs to be told?


And that’s what we’ll be talking about at our workshop on Tuesday, June 11th. from 10 am to noon at 618 S. Michigan, Stage Two, Columbia College.

It’s a workshop for journalists on how we measure what works and how we know what’s missing in stopping the violence.

We’ll hear from public health experts, who will walk us through ways of measuring what agencies say about their work.

We’ll hear about what exists here in Chicago and what we need  as well as what we don’t. And we’ll hear from about a dozen agencies, who will talk about how they do their work, and how you can measure the results.

Natalie Moore, WBEZ’s South Side Bureau chief, will moderate

It’s a good time to do this.


Since Rahm is raising $50 million in private funds to give out to agencies that will help stop crime, isn’t it our jobs as journalists to see if this money will make a difference?

Shouldn’t we be asking what kinds of solutions the Mayor and others are proposing?

But no matter what, shouldn’t be be asking these questions now?

We’re partnering again for this effort with the unique city-wide effort, Strengthening Chicago’s Youth (SCY), which links over 120 agencies and organizations somehow involved in dealing with youth violence.

Talk to me – digame,, office 312 36

You might also want to read this article from Crain’s about the Mayor’s anti-violence fund raising effort.





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