Watching Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel kick off his “Put the Guns Down” initiative was supposed to inspirational, but it turned out to be a wholly disheartening spectacle. Twenty people had been shot in the city the night before, and Emanuel, dogged by protesters who wanted police to put their guns down, wearily announced his hope that the city could go more than 24 hours without gun violence.

On the positive side, handfuls of Chicagoans did start the long holiday weekend by hosting “Put the Guns Down” events, and don’t tell the ACLU, but prayer played an integral role.

We’re sorry to report that not everyone got the message. The long holiday weekend stretches through Monday, but as of Saturday afternoon, at least three had been reported shot and killed and 12 more injured by gunfire. Among those killed was a 15-year-old girl.

And the heartbreak continues:

Veronica Lopez’ mother said she was looking to relocate to Florida with her daughter, noting that someone was shot in the alley behind their home just a week earlier. Her daughter, a passenger in a Jeep, was shot several times when someone in a black Nissan pulled up and fired.

Before you say something snarky in the comments about Chicago having some of the most stringent gun control laws on the books, let it be known that the Chicago Tribune’s Rex Huppke considers you an Internet lout whose argument is heartless and stupid, not to mention debunked.

Huppke is quick to place the blame where it belongs: on the shooters. However, he also cites President Obama’s “Iron Pipeline” and argues that “Chicago’s tough gun laws don’t mean much when there are states where guns can be purchased with ease and little scrutiny” and then resold (illegally) in Chicago.

For its part, the NRA maintains that, “instead of treating the law-abiding gun owners of Indiana like criminals they should start treating the criminals in Chicago like criminals.” Huppke counters that if supplier states like Indiana, Mississippi, and Wisconsin had tighter restrictions on gun purchases, it “could drive up the price of weapons and make it harder for a messed-up kid to get a pistol for his waistband.”

Huppke concludes:

Chicagoans are going to die this weekend. And blame will rest, as it should, on the shooters and the gun runners and the gangs that foment violence.

Some of it will be on us, for never caring quite enough to demand that these daily tragedies stop.

And some, no matter what the NRA says, will be on the presence of the guns themselves.

Because it’s hard to shoot someone if the pistol isn’t there.

Next steps?

  1. Impose tougher restrictions on gun sales in other states.
  2. Wait and watch as the flow of guns into Illinois slows to a trickle.
  3. ???