Normally, Democrats don’t have much use for federalism, which is the idea that some issue areas (such as national security and immigration) should be handled by the federal government, while other issues (such as education and infrastructure) should be left to local governments.
Democrats, normally, want to nationalize everything. They want the Department of Education to control how much money is spent on students and what they are taught. They want the Department of Housing and Urban Development to decide what types of buildings should be built in which neighborhoods. And they think the federal government should fight crime by restricting the 2nd Amendment and paying police departments to run midnight basketball leagues.
But don’t you dare question whether or not the local district attorney’s decision not to prosecute criminals arrested on suspicion of gun crimes has anything to do with Chicago’s record-high homicide rate. Then, Democrats will shut you down.
That is exactly what happened to the Heritage Foundation’s Amy Swearer when she was invited by Republicans to testify at a field hearing in Chicago about gun violence. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin was more than happy to listen to other witnesses blame gun laws in neighboring states for Chicago’s crime wave, but when Swearer began to describe a specific incident in which five men were arrested and then not charged for shooting up a home, Durbin was having none of it.
“If you want to speak to the trends, that is your right, but because a decision was made by the committee to keep this more at the federal level, I hope you’ll respect that,” Durbin said, asking that Swearer not mention the details of the case.
“I do, in fact, respect that this is something we are looking at from a federal level,” Swearer said. “However, when we are talking about what is actually happening in Chicago, I think we need to look at how do things like not charging five individuals who shot up a residential neighborhood on a Friday, none of whom were charged, were released on Monday. How does that impact the feeling of confidence? How does that build trust with communities? I think that is a valid thing to consider.”
Swearer is dead right. If anybody wants to know why gun violence is out of control, one of the first places anybody should examine is the local district attorney’s office. If the local DA isn’t prosecuting crimes, then guess what? There is going to be lots of crime, no matter what the neighboring state’s gun laws are.