Chicago – In a particularly violent night in America’s most dangerous major city, at least 19 people were wounded as a result of gun violence.
The Chicago Tribune reports that 13 people were shot in one half-hour period late Thursday night in Chicago. Around 9:15 p.m., a gunman opened fire from a vehicle and wounded eight people at the intersection of 79th Street and Essex Avenue. The wounded included five boys ages 14-16, a 19-year-old woman walking to work, a 20-year-old and a 28-year-old who is hospitalized in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the chest. After hearing gunshots, officers rushed to the scene where they saw a car speeding away and gave chase. The car was found abandoned near the South Shore Motel at East 81st Street and South Stony Island Avenue. The car was reportedly riddled with bullet holes and there was blood on the hood. Police followed a blood trail into the hotel. With a helicopter hovering overhead shining a light to illuminate the room, a SWAT team busted into the room and discovered a cache of weapons but no suspects. At around 9:25 p.m., two men, ages 27 and 33, were shot at the Ida B. Wells/Darrow Homes complex on East 37th Street. At about the same time, two other men were struck in the arms by a drive-by shooter on West 39th Place in the Brighton Park neighborhood. Around 15 minutes later, a 24-year-old man was shot in the leg on South Jeffrey Boulevard. Earlier Thursday, four men ages 19-22 were shot in the Little Village neighborhood around 5:20 p.m. The men were walking on South Kedzie Avenue when at least one gunman in a passing car opened fire on them. Amazingly, none of last night’s 19 shootings was fatal. But there have been 38 homicides in Chicago so far this month, surpassing the August 2011 total of 35 with a week still left in the month. Recently, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who implemented a controversial gang auditing system last year, boasted that with “only” 49 murders, July 2012 was the least violent month in Chicago in a quarter century. In contrast, while there were 49 homicides in one month in Chicago, which has a population of 2.7 million, there were 47 gun murders for the entire year of 2011 in Japan, which has a population of 127.8 million. There were 433 murders in Chicago in 2011, the third straight year of declining homicides since 513 were killed in 2008. But overall, 346 people have been murdered so far this year in the Windy City, compared to 265 during the same period a year ago– an increase of about 31 percent. As NBC Chicago recently reported, Economic Policy Journal has named Chicago as the deadliest global city in the world. With a projected 505 homicides for 2012, Chicago’s murder rate of 19.4 per 100,000 residents easily tops second-place São Paulo, Brazil (15.6 per 100,000) and dwarfs third-place Moscow, Russia (9.6 per 100,000) and even Mexico City (8.0 per 100,000). Tokyo, Japan, by contrast, has a murder rate of 0.5 per 100,000. The Huffington Post reported this June that the number of people murdered in Chicago is greater than the number of US troops killed in the war in Afghanistan. Gun rights advocates point to Chicago, which has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation, and its shocking murder rate as proof that gun control does not work. But gun control advocates note that with 270 million guns in the United States– nearly one per citizen, local gun laws are all but meaningless. Many of those who study crime in Chicago point to the historical legacy and ongoing racial segregation, grinding poverty and pronounced economic disparity as major contributing factors to the city’s sky-high murder rate.