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Firsthand: Gun Violence

Gun violence seen through the eyes of Chicagoans with firsthand experience

Chicago Gun Violence: Where Are We Now?

As hip-hop music thumped in George’s Barber Shop on the South Side of Chicago in October, a lively debate broke out over whether Mayor Lori Lightfoot might be the politician to finally solve Chicago’s gun violence crisis.

“I think she may be able to do some good for us,” said Derrick Purnell, Sr., a 48-year-old electrician, as he sat in a chair waiting for a haircut. “But I haven’t seen anything yet. You got to do more than just talk.”

George Eskridge, Jr., 49, who runs the shop with his father, was more cynical. Dozens of his customers had fallen victim to shootings, and he has grown wary of politicians raising his hopes and then failing to deliver.

“They’re not going to do anything,” he said. “We’re drowning, and instead of throwing us a life jacket, they want to throw us away.”

Lightfoot entered office in May 2019 after rallying voters around her pledge to combat gun violence with a of multitude of resources for the South and West Sides, where bullet holes can outnumber potholes, and guns can be easier to find than a job.

Lightfoot has taken steps toward fulfilling her progressive vision. She has carved out a new public safety office to elevate public health approaches to curbing violence, and stacked her administration with experts renowned for their work on community-based violence prevention programs and police reform, earning... Read more


5 expert talks providing context around the topic of gun violence in Chicago

Gun Violence in the News

FIRSTHAND is a multiplatform initiative from WTTW, in partnership with The Trace.

FIRSTHAND: Gun Violence is presented, in part, by The Grainger Foundation, Allstate Insurance Company, The Chicago Community Trust, The Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, the Marc and Jeanne Malnati Family Foundation, and the Steans Family Foundation.

Major support is also provided by Ann and Rich Carr, Lew Collens, Denny and Sandy Cummings, Jim and Kay Mabie,
Sonia T. Marschak, Rande and Cary McMillan, and Nicholas Antoine.