Chicago saw an alarming 51 homicides in January, a huge increase over the number of murders that took place during the same month in 2015.
In total, there were 242 shootings with 292 victims in January, NBC Chicago reports.
Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin held a news conference on Feb. 4, detailing plans for a letter to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner requesting a state of emergency be declared in the city.
"People are living under terror," Boykin said during the conference, according to WLS. "That is unfair; that is not the American way. This is not what we would expect from our government.
"How can we defeat ISIS abroad if we can't even defeat the gang members in our neighborhoods?"
Rauner's office responded to the request by saying that, although the governor is troubled by the city's gun violence, "there is no federal assistance available" even if a state of emergency were declared.
Rauner should pressure President Barack Obama for federal assistance, even if his office believes the administration may rebuff him. From gun violence to an underfunded school system to shaky finances, at this point it would not be imprudent for the city to declare a state of emergency and try to attract outside help in resolving some of Chicago's key issues.
The immediate goal would be to deter violence on the streets. To this end, Boykin has requested federal resources, including the FBI and Federal Marshals, to assist the Chicago Police Department in combating gun violence and raising the department's clearance rate, NBC reports.
Boykin also requested neighborhood stabilization teams as well as economic investment by the government in areas left "devastated" by poverty. The most pressing issue for declaring a state of emergency, however, is the city's burgeoning murder rate.
Obama is scheduled to visit Springfield, Illinois's state capitol, during the week of Feb. 7. The occasion, as Boykin pointed out, is an opportunity for Rauner to press Obama -- a former Chicago resident himself -- to provide the much-needed federal resources. Given the dire circumstances, it is the right thing to do.