Chicago’s homicide rate continues to shoot past last year’s rate as a 19-year-old woman was fatally shot in the head at a party on the city’s Southside, and a 24-year-old man was killed on the Westside late Saturday and early Sunday morning. Seven others were shot and wounded during this same period according to the Chicago Tribune.

The number of homicides so far this year in Chicago is 341. The number of homicides in Chicago from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2014, was 435 according to”Crime in Chicago Land”, a service provided by the Chicago Tribune. Last year at the same time, the number was 261. There were eight killings on Wednesday last week. Other cities are experiencing a rise in murders too—Milwaukee, for example, has had 106 homicides so far this year, compared to 80 at the same time last year.

Politicians seeking votes, and police officials, who always blame (without meaningful examination) easy access to guns as the primary cause for the spark in homicides across the nation, are likely missing the mark. The real problem, according to at least one longtime resident of Chicago, is a lack of mental health services, school closings, low wages and lack of opportunity. Dianne Limas (70) told the Chicago Tribune, “If we don’t all start thinking about what’s causing the violence, then how will it ever stop”; This sounds like good advice to us. Studies show that young homicide offenders (often associated with gangs), substantially add to today’s death totals. This same group is also very unlikely to be aware of or concerned about, potential penalties; moreover, most of the guns used during these type of murders, are stolen or purchased on the street. Gun control laws have virtually zero impact on these crimes. Ms. Limas has the real answer– especially where easy access to mental health services is concerned. Mental health is the single most important issue for many of our young citizens today.

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