Chicago gun violence victims are speaking out and filing a lawsuit against the state in the hopes of stemming the rising tide of gun crimes in the city. They claim that the city is culpable for the physical and emotional injuries they have suffered because of failures enforcing existing laws. While Chicago’s gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation, plaintiffs argue they are not enforced and the protections they provide don’t stop bullets from flying.
Gun Violence in Chicago
In 2017, there were 653 homicides in Chicago. That number fell to 561 in 2018. So far this year, 382 murders have been recorded which is 47 less than at the same time last year.
The vast majority of homicides in Chicago involve firearms. So far in 2018, there have been 1,836 shootings recorded in the city. Most of these involve repeat offenders and those who would otherwise be disqualified from owning or possessing a firearm under existing laws.
Victims involved in the lawsuit argue that the City of Chicago is liable for the rising rates of gun violence in the state. They argue that the state’s failure to strictly enforce existing laws violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Illinois Civil Rights Act.
Victims claim that the concentrated violence in the city is causing significant psychological injuries to residents. They argue these injuries are disproportionately impacting African-Americans and lower-income residents of Chicago.
This past month, US District Court Judge Joan Gottschall denied the city’s request to dismiss the case. This means the suit will go forward in the hopes that it will force the state to enforce existing firearms regulations and for prompt legislators to introduce new regulations that will provide more effective solutions to gun violence in the city.
Children Are the Innocent Victims
Children often suffer the most in a shooting. They are susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder, including symptoms of restlessness and anxiety. Many exhibit symptoms and behaviors similar to those of combat veterans. These symptoms can result in poor performance at school, behavior problems, and other issues that can impede their development into adulthood.
Plaintiffs in the suit argue that it’s the city’s responsibility to enforce existing gun laws to prevent these consequences of gun crime. However, this is uncharted legal territory and it remains to be seen whether the courts will agree with their arguments.