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An Illegal Gun is Seized by Police Every 72 Minutes in Chicago: Top Cop

By Kelly Bauer | August 31, 2015 2:58pm
 Police showed some of the illegally owned guns they have seized so far in 2015.
Police showed some of the illegally owned guns they have seized so far in 2015.
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DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer

BRONZEVILLE — An illegal gun has been seized every 72 minutes this year in Chicago on average, according to Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

McCarthy said 4,824 illegally owned guns have been taken off the streets by police and 2,155 people have been arrested for illegally possessing guns, increases from the last two to three years. Those guns represent 4,824 lives saved, McCarthy said, calling illegally possessing a gun a "gateway" to murder and reiterating his desire for tighter gun control laws in the city.

McCarthy used a police-involved shooting on Saturday as an example of this, saying four people who were involved a shooting and police chase had about 65 arrests between them, including 10 incidents of gun violence and two charges of murder.

"When we had the best murder reductions in the city, we also had the least amount of gun seizures," McCarthy said during a news conference at Police Headquarters. "It's an obvious correlation, what's happening. Shootings go up, gun arrests go up, murders go up."

There have been 1,513 shootings, resulting in 270 homicides, in Chicago so far this year, according to data analyzed by DNAinfo. There were 1,389 shootings and 232 homicides over the same period last year.

"We need help to make this work because what we're doing is not working," McCarthy said. "And when I say we, I'm talking about the entire criminal justice system, I'm talking about the community. We're putting ourselves in harm's way."

The police are focused on identifying and arresting repeat illegal possession offenders, McCarthy said, noting that 20 of the 2,155 people arrested for illegal gun possession have been arrested twice this year.

But, there needs to be other steps taken by legislators and judges to prevent gun violence, McCarthy said. About 75 percent of the people arrested for illegal possession "basically don't do any time," he said.

Chicago does not have the country's strictest gun control, though that is a common misconception that prevents reform, McCarthy said. Just last week, Donald Trump pointed to Chicago's "tough" gun laws and high crime rate in an effort to defend his opposition to gun control.

He called on legislators to enact tighter laws to prevent gun violence and, in the meantime, judges to dole out harsher sentences to those convicted of gun crimes, especially repeat offenders.

"To the gang member, the sanction of losing a gun is probably greater from the gang than it is for getting caught by us," McCarthy said. "Until such time where people go to jail for illegal possession of firearms, illegal guns ... we're not going to get to the place where we want to be."

Compare shootings so far in 2015 to the same period in 2014:

2015

2014