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Top Cop Echoes Calls for Gun Control in Chicago

By Quinn Ford | January 14, 2013 5:14pm

CHICAGO — The city's top cop once again urged federal, state and local lawmakers to pass "reasonable" gun control laws to help stem the flow of weapons onto Chicago's streets.

And he showed off some of those guns to help drive home his point.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the city's police department has already seized 302 guns so far this year and routinely seizes more guns than any other police department in the country.

"This can no longer continue," McCarthy said. "This has been going on for years and years and years, and we've got to get this in the public's eye and the public's attention to stop this from happening in the future."

McCarthy's comments come on the heels of a year with 506 murders in Chicago that earned the city the notorious title of "murder capital" of America. The vast majority of those murders — 439 — were committed using guns, according to DNAinfo Chicago's timeline of all 2012 murders victims.

Monday, McCarthy said he and other city officials are pressing for laws which include "five points": a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, universal background checks for anyone who buys a firearm in the U.S., mandatory prison sentencing for illegal gun possession and mandatory reporting of the sale, theft or transfer of any firearm.

McCarthy said a mandatory reporting requirement was especially crucial in Chicago "because that is the method by which the firearms reach our city streets."

"The number one source of firearms in the city of Chicago is not Mississippi. It's not Indiana, and It's not Wisconsin. It's Cook County," McCarthy said.

McCarthy, who said he himself was a member of the National Rifle Association as a child, said the aims do not represent gun control per se.

"Our intent is not to infringe on the Second Amendment rights of Americans to carry firearms," McCarthy said. "However, we would like to insert some reasonability into the gun laws."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he will present a new gun-control ordinance to the City Council. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is expected to present companion legislation this week to go along with the city's proposal.

That comes after an assault weapons ban failed to pass the Illinois General Assembly during a lame-duck session earlier this month.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a well-known priest at St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham, joined McCarthy Monday. Pfleger, like McCarthy, said he thought a city or county ordinance is necessary. 

But Pfleger said local or even state laws are not be enough to address the city's gun problem.

"We need them here in Chicago. We need them here in Illinois," Pfleger said. "But if we don't take this issue on federally, it just means [criminals] driving a little further."