Chicago’s finest want more firepower to fight an epidemic of homicides, according to a column in the Chicago Sun-Times, although nobody has explained how arming cops with carbines and rifles is going to prevent criminals from opening fire when there are no police in sight.
It doesn’t always work this way, as noted by the Chicago Tribune Wednesday. Two plainclothes officers were wounded in what may have been an ambush in the Back of the Yards area, the newspaper said. Police have recovered a rifle believed to have been used in that attack. The only description of the rifle offered by the newspaper was “high powered.”
Columnist Michael Sneed reported Wednesday that four Chicago aldermen who are all former police officers are apparently pushing the idea. They were identified as Edward Burke, Anthony Napolitano, Christopher Taliaferro and Willie Cochran. According to Sneed, they’ll be supported by Kevin Graham, new head at the Fraternal Order of Police.
The way Graham framed his argument might raise an eyebrow: “My members are at risk, and the time has come for the city to acknowledge that the safety of our officers is paramount.” After Wednesday’s shooting incident, his argument has more horsepower.
But what about the safety of the citizens? So far this year, almost 200 of them have been murdered, according to the latest count at dnainfo.com. The mayhem is on track to match the body count for 2016, which hit 762 slayings, the worst year in the past two decades.
The newspaper noted that, “Many police officers have carbines and long guns, but they can’t be used for police work without proper certification by the police department.” The new proposal reportedly includes a suggestion to allow retired officers to be trained as instructors so more beat cops can be certified to use rifles. There is apparently a “backlog” for training.
Missing from this discussion is any indication that carbines and rifles are actually going to be used in genuine confrontations with thugs who have been soaking the sidewalks with other people’s blood. Otherwise, most of these rifles and carbines will likely only be used on the range, and their presence on the street may be little more than a “show of force” without any shots actually being fired. Granted, the two plainclothes officers shot Wednesday might have used rifles to return fire, but is that the rule or the exception? Of course, the presence of rifles might dissuade bad guys from trying to shoot it out with police, which would be the preferable outcome.
Meanwhile, the city has resisted all efforts to make it easier for law-abiding citizens to arm themselves. After all, they’re typically the ones caught in the hails of bullets launched by the criminals who have turned Chicago’s streets into shooting galleries.