William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






INCREDIBLE – AT 9:25 A.M. ET:  Gun-control hearings began yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  There were some perfectly reasonable statements and suggestions, and some that were silly.  The issue of violence committed with guns is complex, and too often we are treated to statements by "journalists" and others that do not reflect the factual situation, or that simply follow a party line.

One thing that was discussed yesterday is the failure to enforce the law.  It is a national scandal.  There are plenty of laws on the books to deal with gun perpetrators, but they are often treated as a joke...especially in the president's home city of Chicago, where the mayor's brilliant reply to shootings is to ask banks not to make loans to gun manufacturers.  Real tough stuff.  In Chicago, the guilty too often walk:

It’s getting easier to get away with shooting people in Chicago.

Last year, gunmen who shot and wounded someone got away without criminal charges 94 percent of the time, according to a DNAinfo.com Chicago analysis of police data.

That’s even worse than 2011, when 91.5 percent of shooters escaped charges, according to the data.

Chicago’s top cop said the “no-snitch” code of silence on the street is the biggest contributor in his department’s struggle to charge shooters.

“The challenges we have to get charges in a significant number of cases is very difficult when witnesses and victims choose not to cooperate," Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said in an interview with DNAinfo.com Chicago.

"To make cases prosecutable we need cooperative witnesses — and those go out the window right up front. We have a victim today who is an offender tomorrow. It's a vicious circle. There are a lot of people who are not going to cooperate," he said. "That's why we have to take on the no-snitch issue."

But try getting "community leaders" to deal with this.  Some of them, as with Jesse Jackson Jr., have their own legal problems to worry about.  And one of the leading candidates to succeed Jackson in the House was caught trying to bring a gun on a plane.

In 2012, Chicago police cleared 211 aggravated battery with a firearm cases — 11 percent of the 1,893 incidents where someone was shot and wounded during the calendar year.

But of those cases, only 111 shootings — about 6 percent — resulted in charges. The other 100 cases were "cleared exceptionally,” which means police know who the shooter is but were unable to bring charges, the state’s attorney wouldn’t bring charges, a victim refused to testify after identifying a shooter or the offender was dead.

Detectives in 2012 were able to clear 144 cases that happened before 2012. But even when you factor in those cases, Chicago's total clearance rate — 18.8 percent — is nearly half the national average cited in the most recent FBI report on clearance rates.

In 2010, eight police departments in cities with more than 1 million residents cleared 35.5 percent of nonfatal shootings with an arrest, the FBI report shows.

COMMENT:  How much discussion do you think this will receive on CNN?   It isn't politically correct, so don't hold your breath. 

January 31, 2013