WASHINGTON D.C. (IRN) – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, says the state needs more federal help to cut down on gang violence.
“Since Illinois is number one in per capita gang membership, for every 1,000 Illinois citizens, six are in a criminal gang,” Kirk said. “That’s the highest in the country.”
To lead that fight, Kirk wants the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to appoint a Chicago-based anti-gang coordinator for Illinois. He made the request in a letter sent to recently-appointed ATF Director Todd Jones.
Kirk garnered controversy earlier in the year when he called for the arrest of 18,000 members of the gang known as the Gangster Disciples. He says he was trying to convey the magnitude of the gang problem across the state, drawing a comparison to famous mobster Al Capone.
“When I talked about gangs downstate, people would think about a scene maybe from ‘The Untouchables’ where Capone would get together with 20 hoods,” Kirk said. “The thing I was trying to get through was these criminal empires are far in excess of what Capone would’ve ever dreamed of.”
Anti-gang legislation championed by Kirk passed a Senate committee in June. The bill would provide $19.5 million for the Department of Justice to go after members of “Gangs of National Significance.”