Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot (D.) on Friday blamed her city's sharp rise in gun violence on the federal government’s failure to conduct background checks, a measure the state of Illinois has already implemented.
"We have got to make sure that we do a better job of taking guns out of the hands of criminals," Lightfoot told MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle. "You've heard me say this before: We have to have a federal policy on background checks and making sure that dangerous people are not able to go across the border to states like Indiana and get military-grade weapons in quantities and then bring them back to the streets and shoot people up."
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Illinois has a universal background check system and strict permitting practices in place. That has not prevented Chicago from experiencing a rise in gun violence over the past year, punctuated by the deaths of nine children under the age of 18 between June 20 and July 5. Eighteen people were wounded by gunfire in the past two days in the city, as a drop in police activity has coincided with Lightfoot's feud with the police union, which blames her for low morale.
Lightfoot called for federal help in dealing with the issue of illegal guns on Chicago's streets.
"We're fighting a losing battle if we don't have federal partnership on restricting access to guns in the hands of dangerous criminals. We've got to have partnership on that," she said.
The city is on track to see a homicide count that rivals 2016's homicide count, the city's most violent year since the mid-1990s.
Lightfoot has blamed the city's police union for obstructing attempts at police reform. She accused union chief John Catanzara of having "his head in the sand" after he pushed back on claims that racism is an issue in the police department.