CHICAGO — Reeling from a violent 24 hours when six people were killed in Chicago, the city's police superintendent on Tuesday spoke passionately at a press conference about the city's gun violence, saying criminals are more scared of their gangs than of police.
Despite two years of declining gun violence in Chicago, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said officers this year have made 25 percent more gun arrests than the previous year.
The fact that guns are so prevalent in Chicago — plus the fact that laws don't go far enough to deter gun crime — are two of the reasons for the city's widespread gun violence, which has spiked in a violent September, McCarthy said.
Gun seizures and arrests are up because of smart police practices of putting more officers in the right areas targeting the right people, McCarthy said. But the problem still persists because, oftentimes, criminals are more concerned about their gang finding out they lost a gun than the police finding them with a gun.
"I apologize for my frustration and anger," McCarthy said at the beginning of his Tuesday press conference, called a day after an 11-month-old was among five shot and a 2-year-old was shot in separate incidents Monday.
"We're seizing guns and arresting criminals, and we're not getting the results we want," he said.
Chicago far eclipses New York and Los Angeles in how many illegal guns are taken from criminals, McCarthy said, blaming, in part, criminals being afraid of severe punishment by gang leaders for losing weapons.
"Criminals are fearless because our gun laws, our statutes, don't have that sanction," McCarthy lamented. "This is something that I find amazing. The criminals don't drop their guns in the city of Chicago.
McCarthy said he was struck, after coming to Chicago from the East Coast, that criminals in Chicago don't drop their guns when being chased by police.
"On the East Coast, in New York, they drop the gun and run nine times out of 10. Newark, New Jersey, nine times out of 10 they drop the gun and run," he said. "In the City of Chicago, they don't."
McCarthy said the high percentage of criminals with guns here makes it more dangerous for police officers.
He mentioned a recent case, when a police commander was out on a patrol and saw a car full of people open fire at another occupied car. The commander chased the shooters and fatally shot one of them when their car reversed towards police.
When police finally apprehended the shooters, they found four people with extensive criminal backgrounds. The four had collectively been arrested a total of 60 times, McCarthy said, including for deadly shooting incidents.
"Because the sanctions from the gangs for losing the gun is greater than the sanction for being caught by the police and getting put through the criminal justice system," McCarthy said, "criminals are not held accountable."
McCarthy then appealed for help from individuals who see gun violence, from the media addressing the violence and from lawmakers who, he said, have created a lax environment for criminals.
"We absolutely need help," McCarthy said. "I know we have problems with other things like pensions, problems like taxes. The number one problem in Chicago needs to be gun violence."
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