Following the latest mass shooting in Newton, Connecticut, the discussion around gun control has re-emerged. Unfortunately, throughout the discourse, we tend to lump all of America’s issues with guns into one realm. However, that is just not the case.
In this country we have two distinct problems with gun violence. For the sake of this post, the two problems that I have identified are titled the “Connecticut Problem” and the “Chicago Problem”. The “Connecticut Problem” refers to the frequently occurring mass shootings. The majority of these shootings are happening in what we have traditionally viewed as relatively safe locations, such as schools, malls, and universities. The shootings are mostly being executed with semi-automatic assault style weapons with large ammunition magazines.
In contrast, we have the “Chicago Problem”, most widely identified by the violence in Chicago. Although Chicago is the city currently experiencing rampant gun violence, cities like New Orleans, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC have all been at the forefront of gun violence dialogues in this country. The “Chicago Problem” of gun violence has mainly happened in urban areas with illegal handguns and is often correlated to various issues that plague inner city communities like drug trade, gang culture, and neighborhood altercations. Both the “Chicago Problem” and the “Connecticut Problem” must be addressed, but the solutions are starkly different.
In the wake of the of the Connecticut shooting, sensible gun control measures have been suggested such as limiting high capacity magazine clips, banning assault style semi-automatic weapons, comprehensive background checks and waiting periods for all gun purchases. All of these policies seem to be reasonable responses to curb mass shooting incidents. However, because one of the main driving forces behind the “Chicago Problem” is unlawful gun usage, it seems to be a far more difficult and complex issue to address. Urban violence must be addressed in a comprehensive way, which includes effective policies which speak to the socioeconomic, educational and cultural problems that contribute to an atmosphere of violence in these neighborhoods.
That we have a gun problem in America is unquestionable, but as these incidences indicate, we are facing two distinctly different problems with various root causes that require complex solutions and the collective will of the American people to significantly reduce gun violence in our country.