Shootings on the Fourth of July

Flowers line a curb near Central Avenue and Green Bay Road in downtown Highland Park, Illinois on Tuesday, July 5.


Ashlee Rezin/Associated Press

The press is understandably focused on the horrific shooting at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois, which left seven dead and more than 30 injured. Police arrested 21-year-old Robert E. Crimo III and Deputy Chief of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Christopher Covelli said Tuesday that authorities believe he planned the shooting for weeks. The suspected shooter fits the profile of many such perpetrators: young, male loners who posted hints of their future rampages on social media.

Coincidentally, Illinois has some of the strictest gun restrictions in the United States, and a separate Highland Park ordinance also restricts AR-15s, AK-47s, and other semi-automatic weapons. Mr Covelli said Tuesday authorities believe Mr Crimo obtained his guns legally within the state.

Meanwhile, eight people were murdered and 60 others received gunshot wounds in nearby Chicago over the weekend of July 4th. More than 1,600 people have been shot dead in Chicago so far this year, but these killings are receiving far less attention than they deserve.

Violence also erupted this weekend in Pennsylvania, which is ranked 15th nationally by the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety for the strength of its gun restrictions. Two police officers on duty for the Fourth of July celebrations were shot dead outside the Philadelphia Art Museum on Monday.

Both were released from hospital on Tuesday, but Philadelphia Police Union President John McNesby described how “we were inches away from planning a funeral” for a highway cop who ended up having “a bullet in his cap” instead of his skull.

The incident is currently under investigation, and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said, “We don’t know if this was a ricochet of celebratory shooting” or “if this was someone intentionally firing at these officers from a long distance.” 35 others were shot dead over the long weekend in Philadelphia, nine were killed.

This bloodshed comes days after President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan gun law into law. Among other provisions, the legislation provides incentives for states to pass so-called red-flag laws and also requires more comprehensive background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21, including a possible screening of juvenile records. One hope is that this will prevent guns from getting into the hands of concerned young men who want to commit violence.

However, the weekend shootings also fall in a new era of violent crime that began in 2020. Substance abuse rose and mental health deteriorated amid the pandemic and its lockdowns. Advanced law enforcement has contributed to an atmosphere of lawlessness and disorder.

Cities across the US have slashed police funding in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, and demoralized cops have quit without replacement or retired. Progressive prosecutors like Cook County’s Kim Foxx and Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner are lenient toward criminals. Lawbreakers today often act with impunity—and more and more law-abiding citizens are turning to guns to protect themselves, believing the state can’t or won’t.

The United States is dealing with a societal disorder that gun control cannot heal. It will likely take years to mitigate the damage, but politicians can help by returning to the anti-crime policies that worked so well in the 1990s and 2000s.

Wonderland: Joe Biden prefers to talk about racism and guns than to face the real problem. Images: AFP/Getty Images/Reuters/Shutterstock Composite: Mark Kelly

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