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Chicago's Top Cop on Innocent Victims: Gang Members 'Not Very Good Shots'

 Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy speaks at the Harrison District police station Monday.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy speaks at the Harrison District police station Monday.
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DNAinfo/Erica Demarest

EAST GARFIELD PARK — Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said most shooting victims in Chicago are gang members, and that poor marksmanship by gun-wielding gang members is to blame when bystanders get hit.

“These guys are not very good shots,” McCarthy said Monday at the Harrison District police station.

“Many times they shoot the wrong person. Many times they shoot the wrong person on purpose — thinking that that’s the person they wanted to shoot. Other times, they just miss their intended targets and hit other people.

“Obviously, the solution to that is: Don’t let that gun get into that individual’s hand."

McCarthy once again said stricter gun control could help reduce the number of people shot in Chicago each year. He pushed for mandatory three-year minimum sentences for gun crimes in Illinois, plus a requirement that convicts serve at least 85 percent of their prison sentences.

“In New York, where these conditions exist, incarceration rates are going down, gun seizures are going down, while homicides are going down,” said McCarthy, who worked in the New York Police Department for more than 20 years.

McCarthy said that so far this year, there have been 80 fewer homicides in Chicago than in the same time frame in 2012. There have been nearly 400 fewer shootings, he said.

“That’s great progress, but it’s not success. We’re not satisfied,” said McCarthy, who added that “great policing” needs to be augmented by tougher gun laws.

McCarthy said while most of the victims of gun violence in Chicago are gang members — that “doesn’t make it OK.”

“What’s the cost of a human life?” he said. “What is the cost of getting this right? What is the cost to the family? What is the cost to the mother of the gangbanger? Because that’s still her child who’s getting murdered.”

In 2013, there have been 113 shootings in which either the victim or the gunman would’ve been in jail if tougher sentencing existed, McCarthy said.

“And when documented gang members become the victim of gun violence, you can be assured that they are going to retaliate.”