Commentary: A Mayor’s Quest to Confront Gun Violence in Chicago

Rahm Emanuel has proposed some new control measures in a city that desperately needs them.

Posted: 06/05/2014 01:07 PM EDT

Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has proposed a wide array of stringent gun control measures that cover everything from videotaping all guns purchased to subjecting stores that sell guns to strict monitoring.

The mayor’s proposals come after a federal court ruled earlier this year that the city’s new law to end gun sales in Chicago was unconstitutional. And Emanuel’s renewed push is not just an effort to come up with new strategies of curbing gun sales in Chicago, it is also a move to do something — anything — to help residents of the nation’s third-largest city to have some degree of confidence in their safety.

While Chicago’s rate of violent crime involving guns has declined in the last few years, there is still the perception — a reality, actually — that things remain out of control. Indeed, for every high-profile gun death like Hadiya Pendelton, the high school student who was gunned down in a Chicago park a week after performing at President Obama’s inauguration, there are scores of others who have not received national attention.

In fact, just last weekend, four people were shot to death in Chicago and another 20 were injured. And that occurred just between Friday and Sunday. For residents of working-class neighborhoods, particularly in the city’s African-American community, the scourge of gun violence is particularly prevalent.

News accounts in Chicago are filled weekend after weekend with heartbreaking stories about gun violence, deaths of young and old, in a city that has become a national symbol of urban violence and of the need for strong action to be taken in adopting effective gun control measures.

Under the mayor’s proposal, not only would gun shops have to record all sales, but it would ban stores that sell firearms in about 99 percent of the city. It would also limit a gun purchaser at a store to one purchase a month, with the exception of vintage weapons and returns. Gun sellers would be required to submit to audits every three months.

There are cynics who contend that Emanuel is guided as much by concern about gun violence as he is by the politics of reelection, citing the mayor’s diminishing approval ratings among African-American Chicagoans. Nonetheless, these are wise and timely measures that he has championed for a city that desperately needs every measure possible to address the number of guns in Chicago. While it doesn’t affect the access to guns from shops outside of the city, it will nonetheless pave the way for reforms in gun laws that will undoubtedly come to those municipalities that ring Chicago.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

Follow Jonathan Hicks on Twitter: @HicksJonathan

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