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‘Keep our name out of your mouth’: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spars with Ted Cruz over gun control

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) slammed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on Sept. 3 for pointing to her city as evidence that “gun control doesn’t work.” (Video: The Washington Post)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) had a simple demand for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) after he cited her city as evidence that “gun control doesn’t work”: “Keep our name out of your mouth,” she tweeted Monday.

Cruz, however, ignored Lightfoot’s pointed request. Instead, he fired off more tweets on Tuesday highlighting Chicago’s homicide rates, escalating a heated debate between the two politicians over gun control in the wake of a mass shooting in West Texas, and another violent holiday weekend in Chicago. Hours after slamming Cruz in front of reporters in Chicago, Lightfoot hit back at the senator on Twitter on Tuesday night, calling out his “dishonest use of our city as a cheap symbol to cover for the @gop’s unwillingness to protect their constituents.”

If “you really care about Chicagoans, Texans and everyone facing gun violence, take action,” Lightfoot wrote in a tweet that also tagged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “Do your job.”

As conservatives continue pointing to Chicago to argue against gun control, Lightfoot — who was elected in April — has fiercely defended her city’s reputation. Last month, the mayor went after White House adviser Ivanka Trump for posting what she described as “misleading” tweets about Chicago’s “deadliest weekend of the year.” Trump’s tweets came just days after back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.

The feud between Lightfoot and Cruz began Monday when the senator tweeted a link to a story from Breitbart News reporting on a spate of shootings over the Labor Day weekend in “Democrat-controlled Chicago.”

“Gun control doesn’t work,” Cruz wrote. “Look at Chicago. Disarming law-abiding citizens isn’t the answer. Stopping violent criminals — prosecuting & getting them off the street — BEFORE they commit more violent crimes is the most effective way to reduce murder rates. Let’s protect our citizens.”

Conservatives frequently bring up the city in debates about gun control, arguing that Chicago’s tough gun laws have done little to curb violent crime. But the claim parroted by everyone from then-candidate Donald Trump to former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders that Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the country has been debunked by multiple sources, including The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, PolitiFact and NPR. The Fact Checker also noted that the gun violence statistics that placed Chicago atop the list of America’s deadliest cities often didn’t take into account population differences between the metropolitan areas.

Does a city with the ‘toughest gun laws’ end up with ‘worst gun violence’?

On Monday night, Lightfoot clapped back at Cruz, tweeting that “60% of illegal firearms recovered in Chicago come from outside IL — mostly from states dominated by coward Republicans like you who refuse to enact commonsense gun legislation.” Lightfoot was referencing data from a 2017 report released by Chicago officials that linked the availability of illegal guns in the city to deadly street violence. The report also found that Chicago’s neighboring state of Indiana bore the largest share of the responsibility, with 1 in 5 illegal guns coming from there.

Chicago says the illegal guns fueling the city’s violence mostly come from out of state

Cruz doubled down on his argument Tuesday, mentioning Chicago eight times in a five-tweet thread full of statistics about its murder rate.

“Mayor, your anger is misplaced,” Cruz tweeted, sharing a link to a USA Today report that found Chicago had the highest number of overall murders in 2017. However, the report named Baltimore the most dangerous city in the United States based on its per capita murder rate.

In another tweet, Cruz noted that the top five cities with the most murders — Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles — “have had Democratic mayors for decades and aggressive gun control policies — none seems to be working.”

Cruz went on to dispute Lightfoot’s argument that nearby red states with more relaxed gun laws were to blame, writing, “Your explanation (“blame Indiana!”) doesn’t hold water. There are 27 states with GOP governors.”

Then, Cruz offered Lightfoot some advice.

“Maybe, rather than getting angry when others point out the tragically high murder rate in Chicago, you put aside the partisan talking points & the failed gun-control policies Chicago has pursued for decades,” he tweeted.

Asked about the senator’s tweets at a Tuesday meeting to address Chicago’s Labor Day weekend shootings, Lightfoot tore into Cruz, accusing him of trying to “make a political point” out of the Odessa shooting that left at least seven people dead and 22 injured.

“Given the tragedy that’s happened in Texas over the last few weeks, tragedies plural, it’s surprising to me that Senator Cruz would do anything other than work his butt off to better represent the citizens of Texas,” Lightfoot said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “There’s a great need across this country for federal leadership in particular to step up and come forward with a real plan to deal with the gun violence that we’re seeing not only in cities like Chicago but really across the country.”

She continued: “What we ought to do is not try to score political points. We ought to try to come together and solve one of the core problems with gun violence which is this patchwork of systems in different states, different neighboring states having different systems, because the federal government hasn’t stepped up to do its job.”

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