Chicago gun deaths have reached levels not seen since the early 2000s. Already this year more people have been killed by guns than in all of 2015. That's 425 people killed so far in the United States' third largest city, an unbelievably tough situation for police and public officials. But not for Donald Trump, because his comments on the situation suggest he's missing an important part of the picture. Maybe this tweet will help Trump understand why Chicago's gun deaths occur — after all it speaks in language that he should understand.
He's blamed Chicago's strict gun laws for the high levels of gun violence, but that's ridiculous. So to make it clear to Trump exactly what's going on, the conversation might need to be simplified. This tweet from Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, has the perfect strategy. That is because there's one word that Trump uses to talk about problems: the word "wall." That's how he would "solve" illegal immigration. Terrorism would be prevented much the same way, by keeping out Muslims. So perhaps framing gun violence in terms of walls will get it through his head that sensible gun laws are the answer, not the problem.
Watts tweeted Wednesday, "Will @realDonaldTrump and @GovPenceIN build a wall along Indiana/Illinois border to stop crime guns from going into Chicago?" That's right, many of the illegal guns used in Chicago shootings are not purchased in the city — or even the state of Illinois. Rather, it's gun friendly jurisdictions like neighboring Indiana that allow for guns to be sold and trafficked to the city's South and West sides.
President Obama pointed this out in January during a CNN town hall. He explained how illegal gun dealers operate. "They go to a gun show in Indiana, where right now they don't have to do a background check, load up a van and open up that van and sell 'em to kids and gangs in Chicago," he said, and studies show he's right. More than half of the guns that were seized in 2014 were purchased out of state, reported The Trace, an outlet that reports on guns in America. And of those, most are from Indiana: More than 1,000 guns a year make it across the state's border.
So Trump and his allies like Newt Gingrich should set their sights on Republicans and gun control opponents who support them like the NRA. Gingrich blamed Pres. Obama for the violence in a tweet Tuesday, writing, "Trump is right to draw attention to the killings in Chicago. 3579 Americans killed in Chicago since Obama inaugural. Trump will change it." That's hard to believe.
Northwest Indiana is essentially part of the Chicago metropolitan area. The city's southeast side marks the border between the two states. "If you're in the city of Chicago on the South Side, you may be closer to Indiana than you are to the Magnificent Mile," Roseanna Ander, executive director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, told the The New York Times referencing the city's downtown shopping district. The Times did an investigation into the situation in November, and found that a private gun show in the state doesn't require a background check and sales are not recorded. So in some parts of Chicago, you're a short car ride and a no-questions-asked deal away from a gun — all thanks to Indiana's lax laws.
Given these realities, Trump and other Republicans need to propose serious solutions. Nationwide background checks are the bare minimum. Because as long as some jurisdictions have laws like Indiana's, illegal dealers will continue to traffic guns to where the demand is. And sadly for the city's residents, one of those places is Chicago. Maybe now that he sees how a wall would change things, Trump can get on board with a sensible policy to prevent these deaths.