Emanuel called this week for a ban on assault weapons. McCarthy cautioned against expecting too much from that one step. Among other measures, he favors longer sentences for illegal firearms possession and emphasizes the need to limit large bullet magazines.
Chicago and the state of Illinois have seen gun control measures thrown out by federal courts, most recently this month when the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a ban on carrying concealed firearms. City Council member Joe Moore said there is only so much local authorities can do.
"Obviously, we've got a problem. Gun violence is way too high in Chicago," said Moore, whose district lies on the quieter North Side. "Sensible gun regulations really have to be done on a national level. Because guns are so transportable, you can't rely on cities or even states to carry the burden."
Tio Hardiman, director of CeaseFire Illinois, says gun violence should be seen not just as a crime but as a public health scourge. In addition to doing "a lot more to stop the flow of illegal guns coming into the city," he said, authorities should pay more attention to mental health and help the most vulnerable young people.
"You have to address the thinking," Hardiman said.
Bullets flew on the South Side on Nov. 26 as the first mourners stepped outside St. Columbanus Catholic Church, where as many as 500 people gathered to lament the death of a reputed gang member. Two young men were hit. One died.
Police said both were foot soldiers in the Gangster Disciples who had come to church to bid farewell to their late comrade. In a gang war that benefits only funeral directors and gravediggers, it seemed fitting that St. Columbanus was once the home church of Al Capone's wife and mother.