The tragic events in Connecticut have caused many to reevaluate their positions on gun control, and I stand with Democrats like President Obama and Senator Durbin in calling for crucial reforms to protect our neighborhoods. Chicago and the communities around it suffer from some of the worst gun violence in the country, with over 1200 shootings in the city in the first six months of this year alone. Controlling the sale of guns and ensuring that they don't fall into the wrong hands is a first step in fighting violent crimes that hurt families and cripples communities.
We need to ban assault weapons, cop-killer bullets, high-capacity magazines, and high-caliber ammunition. We also need to take steps to close the gun-show loophole and ensure that those suffering from mental illness cannot purchase weapons.
Now that the courts have struck down Illinois's concealed carry laws, we need to take steps that empower local communities to create gun control procedures that protect their residents and prevent an unrestricted law. That means that if Cook County needs to ban concealed carry, then I firmly believe it should be allowed to do so.
But we can't keep addressing these challenges in silos. We must engage in all areas to get serious about reducing crime and giving our young people a reason to live. While gun safety is a critical step in cutting the cycle of violence that has plagued our communities, we must do much more to address the reasons for crime. Chicago Public Schools have an enrollment of over 400,000 students that are served by just 370 social workers. We need to hire more social workers to identify and help at-risk youth and invest in afterschool and gang intervention initiatives that give kids a constructive way to spend their time after class. In order to cut down on recidivism and create healthier communities, we must provide assistance to nonviolent felons who have paid their debt to society and are looking for work. A person who is working and can take care of themselves and their family isn't the person wreaking havoc on our communities.