NORTH LAWNDALE — A warehouse on Chicago's West Side shows the results of the Chicago Police Department's efforts to get illegal guns off the streets — some 69,000 handguns, rifles and shotguns seized by cops, some going back nearly 75 years.
Among the weapons stored at the facility is an AR-15 rifle, not unlike those used by the military and police departments, but in this case seized from a gangbanger on the Southwest Side in February.
The gun was among those shown off by police Monday during a tour of the warehouse on the same day Supt. Garry McCarthy announced that his department has seized more than 5,000 guns this year alone.
“We, as a department, have made tremendous progress, but we can't go backwards in terms of gun laws directed at reducing violence in our city's streets,” McCarthy said in a statement. “Our comprehensive policing strategy and partnership with the communities have resulted in fewer murders, shootings, and overall crime in Chicago. We need the lawmakers to do their part."
The 69,000 guns collected at the warehouse are kept as running total taken every month beginning Jan. 1, 1940, but police are not certain if that date is the beginning of the collection. Police keep all guns as evidence connected to crimes in case it is needed during trial and can never eliminate a weapon connected to a homicide.
During Monday's tour, police showed off various weapons seized as part of their efforts, including an AK-47 assault rifle, a .22-caliber target rifle, a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle and the AR-15 with extended flash suppressor.
The AR-15 rifle was confiscated when police arrested a felon and documented gang member in the 3000 block of West 64th Street on Feb. 21. It was loaded with 22 rounds of ammunition.
Officers responded to a report of shots fired on that block and noticed a man matching the description of the shooter running away, they said.
Police arrested Antenio Price, 20, of the 6400 block of South Lowe Avenue, who they said was carrying the loaded assault rifle.
Price was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, not having a valid Firearm Owner's Identification card and violating his bail in another case by having a gun, police said. He is awaiting trial in Cook County Jail.
The office does eliminate some weapons collected with no connection to a crime. Police usually eliminate weapons my melting them, but a recent ordinance will allow them to shred the guns, instead.