CHICAGO — The leader of the National Rifle Association called for stricter enforcement of federal gun laws, instead of more restrictions, as a means of dealing with gang violence in Chicago.
Wayne LaPierre, one of the country's most significant gun-rights advocates, appeared on "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace" to discuss proposed gun control legislation, and said the way Chicago executes gun laws contributes to the violence that has plagued the city.
"We are all obsessed with the Taliban and we ought to be. What about the gangs?" LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president, said according to a Fox News transcript. "They are ruining neighborhoods all over the country? We need a federal task force, if it takes 500 agents, if it takes a thousand agents, go into Chicago.
"Every gang member on the street of Chicago, starting tomorrow morning, let's pick 'em up, we've got a federal law to get them off the street and put them in prison, and that would cut crime and we're not doing it."
In recent years, local and state officials have backed laws targeting gang violence specifically. In June, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law that would allow the state to put away high-ranking gang members for more than 30 years if convicted on conspiracy charges, according to WBEZ.
In 2010, former Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis and former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald met with gang leaders and threatened to enforce federal racketeering laws if gun violence could be linked back to those gangs.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told DNAinfo.com in December that Chicago has seized more illegal guns and arrested more gang members than police in Los Angeles and New York City, both of which are larger than Chicago.
Despite this, the Chicago Police Department counted 506 homicides in the city, an uptick of 16 percent from the previous year. Most of those were from gunshots, and police say gang violence often play a role in the city's murders.
The spike in violence - punctuated by last week's murder of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a promising high school student - prompted Mayor Rahm Emanuel to shift about 200 cops from desk duty to the streets.