Durbin Delivers Opening Statement In Senate Judiciary Committee Chicago Field Hearing On Reducing Gun Trafficking And Violence

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee field hearing entitled “Combating Gun Trafficking and Reducing Violence in Chicago.”  In his opening statement, Durbin highlighted the efforts of key federal agencies to combat gun trafficking, pursue evidence-informed violence prevention strategies, and coordinate with other government and community stakeholders to make our communities safer.  Violence fueled by illicit gun trafficking continues to take a devastating toll on Chicago, with Axios reporting that 2021 is shaping up to be one of the worst years for deadly violence in the city’s history.

Key quotes:

“We know the grim numbers in this city.  Over 4,000 Chicagoans have been shot this year.  In Cook County, there have been more than 1,000 homicides [this year], overwhelmingly due to gun violence.  Much of this gun violence—about half of it—is concentrated in 15 neighborhoods.  But we know the reality—no neighborhood is immune.” 

“Every single person who has been victimized by gun violence deserves justice.  It’s important that we solve these crimes and hold shooters accountable.  But we also need to prevent these shootings from happening in the first place.  Prosecutions after funerals don’t bring back those we’ve lost.” 

“One critical focus of prevention must be gun trafficking.  Chicago is awash in guns, and they are largely being trafficked in from other places—elsewhere in Illinois, and other states.” 

“In June, the Biden Administration established a Department of Justice Firearms Trafficking Strike Force here in Chicago under the leadership of U.S. Attorney John Lausch… Let’s be clear—if we want to reduce shootings, we need to reduce the flow of illegal guns into this city and state.  That is what the Strike Force is tasked to do, and we will hear as well from Kristen de Tineo, the Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Chicago Field Division.”

“We will also hear on our second panel from Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown...  I look forward to hearing from the Superintendent about what we can do at the federal level to make his job better.”

“We will hear from the University of Chicago Crime Lab, which evaluates and supports programs like READI Chicago that are producing meaningful results.  Studies show that these types of programs can reduce violence.”

“Today we will hear from the Principal Deputy Director of CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], our nation’s public health agency.  The CDC doesn’t just study coronavirus and diabetes, it applies its strategies to address the health harms of community violence.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.