CHICAGO hit a grim milestone last week, when it recorded its 400th murder for the year. Homicides are up about 25 percent over last year. Chicago has surpassed New York and Los Angeles as a hub of gun-related violence, most of it involving young people. Since 2001, it has recorded more than 5,000 gun-related deaths, compared with the 2,000 American military deaths in the war in Afghanistan.
I’ve been studying violent crime for more than a decade — first as anacademic researcher, then briefly as a senior adviser to the F.B.I. — and have been struck by the ways in which our efforts to stop gun violence are not as targeted and efficient as they should be.
Until I started observing gangs and criminals, I used to think that young, violent criminals were generally adept in gun use. I learned the reality was far worse. Gangs and drug crews had caches of high-powered weapons but no formaltraining. Their members could not match a gun to its proper bullet. Few knew how to load, clean or shoot. Their aim was woeful: they injured one another — not to mention bystanders — as often as their enemies. It would be ludicrous to train gang members to shoot better (even if it would reduce the number of innocent bystanders who get shot, it would empower criminals). So big-city mayors, and their police departments, understandably focus on gun access.....Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult.