Longtime civil-rights advocate Jesse Jackson is urging President Obama to return to his adopted home city of Chicago to address rampant gun violence.
Jackson’s proposals include ordering street patrols by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The reaction from Jackson came after a 15-year-old honors student who had performed with her high school band at Obama’s inauguration in Washington Jan. 21 was shot and killed just one mile from Obama’s South Side home.
At that point, Jan. 29, there had been 42 homicides and 157 shootings this year in a city with arguably the toughest gun restrictions in the nation. There were 506 murders in the city in 2012, up 17 percent from the previous year.
Jackson, who lives in Chicago, told Reuters, “When the president shows up, it shows ultimate national seriousness.”
He also suggested violence could be curbed by having the DHS help patrol Chicago’s streets.
The TeaParty.org quoted from an Infowars.com report that Jackson already has joined the bandwagon calling on the federal government, in addition to sometimes patrolling local streets, to impose “draconian” firearms laws that would prevent “domestic terrorists” from inflicting harm.
Jackson, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination and founded the Rainbow Coalition team of activists, said it is alarming that such weapons as a semiautomatic rifle are used by “domestic, homegrown terrorism.”
In a separate interview, Obama senior aide David Axelrod, a Chicago native, admitted his city is violent.
“One of the reasons we have such a huge problem in this city is that all around us are areas with weak laws and with very lax background checks and a lot of illegal guns flow into this city,” he said.
However, a report from Mark Konkol, a Pulitzer Prize winner who writes at the DNAinfo.com Chicago site, said the problem is that it’s easy to get away with shooting someone 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,” he reported.
Only 211 of 1,893 aggravated battery with firearms cases were cleared during 2012, Konkol reported.
"Some say the low clearance rate sends the wrong message to Chicago triggermen," he said.
He quoted former FBI agent and now Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis.
"If only 6 percent of people involved in nonlethal shootings are charged, it clearly doesn't set much of a deterrent. What it says is you have the pretty good odds that you won't wind up in court or wind up in jail."
According to a report from WLS-TV in Chicago, Chicago's current number of shooting deaths compares unfavorably to the "city's most notorious crime era, the one that has tarnished Chicago's reputation around the world for a century."
The report by Chuck Goudia said the city is "worse off now in the category of murder than at the height of the era that has driven Chicago's reputation for almost a century, Capone's 'gangland' Chicago."
He cited two months, January 1929, which led up to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and January 2013.
"Forty-two people were killed in Chicago last month, the most in January since 2002, and far worse than the city's most notorious crime era at the end of the Roaring Twenties," he said. "In January 1929 there were 26 killings…"
The report noted, "There was no real gun control back in Capone's day."
Police in Chicago have reported that the honors student, Hadiya Pendleton, was killed just as Congress was beginning work in earnest on a proposal that would impose more restrictions on guns – giving the rest of the nation an atmosphere more like Chicago's level of weapons bans.
The campaign by Obama follows the shootings of 26 people, including 20 children, in Newtown, Conn., late last year.
Jackson said in the Reuters report he was concerned people are just "adjusting" to the violence.
He did not explain his call for DHS agents to patrol Chicago. The agency, established after tthe 9/11 attacks, describes its mission as protecting the U.S. from accidents, natural disasters and terrorists.
Gun laws, however, appeared to work just fine in a Florida shooting incident.
There, according to the Gainesville Sun, a man was shot and killed when he forced his way into a home.
Reports identified the attacker as Kenneth David Drown Jr., 21, and said he had gone to a home where his former girlfriend and their 9-month-old son lived. He brandished a shotgun, but eventually was disarmed and fled, the report said.
When he returned to the home with another shotgun, just a short time later, the homeowner and a teenager shot him.