Gangs, Guns And Drugs
It's been one year since Chicago Police Officer Ron Holt lost his son, 16-year-old Blair Holt, who was gunned down on a CTA bus.
His father is paying tribute to him by participating in tonight's town hall meeting.
"We would like to honor that, in that Blair's death would be looked
on as a beacon of hope," Ron Holt said.
He says Blair would have wanted to be a part of Saturday's
discussion. Ron Holt says Blair asked him about gun violence before he,
himself, was murdered.
"He says, some of my friends at school got killed; I keep reading in
the paper and on the news about people my age getting killed, and that
was his concern," Holt said.
Holt started a group called Purpose Over Pain after the death of his
child. It's composed of a group of parents who have lost their children
to gun violence.
"To speak to at risk youth in the schools, out of the schools, at
home, to see what we can do in connecting those parents with those
children and giving them some ideas on more parental involvement and
giving some ideas to youth on how they can stay active, and not finding
themselves so prone to gangs, guns and violence," said Holt.
It is the concern for hundreds, if not thousands.
Mayor Richard M. Daley was unable to attend the town hall meeting,
but he gave his response to guns via video: "I ask everyone in the City
of Chicago - turn in the guns.
Get rid of the guns. Secondly, if we can ban smoking in every
restaurant in Chicago, why can't we as citizens, not only of Chicago but
of America, say we don't need guns in our community? Automatic weapons,
AK47s, .357 Magnums are going to solve our issues? If you think a
cigarette is dangerous, realize how dangerous a weapon is on our
community. It is about time that you tell your Senator or Congressman.
It is about time we ban these weapons."
While there is an argument over whether a stricter gun control policy
as Mayor Daley advocates, or a less restrictive gun policy such as a
conceal and carry law, the proliferation guns in the hands of criminals
are consistently pointed out as a major issue.
"Gun violence is national policy. We've lost about 4,000 American
soldiers; 4,010 in five years. We lose 30,000 a year at home; 100,000 a
year because of this gun policy," the Rev. Jackson said.
Tom Ahern of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives pointed out that many of the guns used for crimes in Chicago
are purchased legally elsewhere in the state.
"ATF traces annually approximately 15,000 guns that originated from
the State of Illinois," Ahern said. "So that means that of those 15,000
guns that are recovered in crimes within the State of Illinois, they
were purchased legally within the State of Illinois. Over 10,000 guns
per year that are recovered in crimes in the city of Chicago were also
purchased here in the State of Illinois."
But drugs are another, providing the financial lifeblood for gangs.
Many blame the demolition of Chicago Housing Authority high rises,
saying drug dealers who used the high-rises were relocated to certain
South and West side neighborhoods, where conflict erupted with
established drug dealers.