SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) joined Capitol Connection this week to react to President Biden’s visit to Illinois.
In addressing the recent surge in violent crime, Durbin said, “We have more guns in this nation than anyone who wrote the Second Amendment could ever have envisioned.”
“We have over 400 million guns in a nation of 330 million people,” Durbin said. “And how easy are they to get? Just in the last week or two, we have seen hundreds of guns being confiscated by the Chicago police and community after community that have just too damn many guns out there.”
FBI data shows Illinois leads the nation in the number of firearm background checks so far in 2021. Those numbers are a key indicator of tracking gun sales. If Illinois’ violence problem is due to too many guns, then why are people in Illinois buying them in higher volume than any other state in the country?
“I can’t explain it. A lot of personal reasons,” Durbin answered.
Could the surge in firearm purchases a sign that people are losing trust in the judicial system?
“I’m not going to suggest that there are people who say, ‘I’ve got to protect myself because I can’t trust the police to do it,’ or, ‘I don’t want the police to do it. I want to take care of it myself,'” Durbin said.
“There are lots of different reasons. I’m not going to be able to analyze it,” he said. “But when it gets down to it, we’re crazy if we don’t do background checks on the people who buy guns. Anybody who is a convicted felon or mentally unstable should not be able to buy a gun. And yet when it comes to gun shows, orders over the internet, these ghost guns, we’re not enforcing that. That is just unacceptable. That ought to be the starting point of our conversation.”
Durbin suggested that “too many guns” and “gangs coming down from Chicago and other big cities” were behind a recent uptick in violence against law enforcement officers.
“I stand behind law enforcement,” he said. “When I dial 911, I want a real professional answering the call to make sure that my family and my neighborhood is safe. I’m not gonna make any excuses for the reaction to George Floyd’s murder. It was outrageous.”
During President Biden’s visit to Illinois, the White House reiterated its plans to launch a gun trafficking strike force in Chicago and four other major cities.
Durbin also pointed to Biden’s “human infrastructure” plan, that calls for two years of free community college, expanded day care programs, and child tax credits, as a potential solution to help reduce despair that may drive violent crime.
“There is no question about it: income inequality, the loss of hope or confidence in the future, leads people to do desperate, desperate things,” he said. “I’m not making any excuses, but I think it’s a reality. And we’re naïve if we don’t admit it.
“So what can we do to restore opportunity to people who are entering the workforce, are in the workforce, and need more skills and more income? That’s the investment President Biden wants to make. I think it’s the right investment.”