CHICAGO — Police have taken almost 2,900 guns off the streets since Jan. 1, police said, which amounts to "at least one gun nearly every hour of every day."
The rate outpaces 2015 gun confiscations by about 30 percent, the Chicago Police Department said in a written statement Thursday. By this time last year, police said, fewer than 2,200 guns had been collected.
The uptick comes amid a heavy surge in homicides and shootings, which shot up 65 percent during the through the end of April of this year. The total number of victims from those shootings is up 75 percent.
Department leaders credited the purge to a new flurry of gun buy-back programs, in which police partner with churches and community groups to take in weapons and offer gift cards in return. This month, one such event at an Austin church captured 268 guns within four hours, according to police.
The city is pouring nearly $250,000 into the buy-back initiative, which police say was "born out of numerous conversations between Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel, police, pastors, alderman and community members," according to the release.
A DNAinfo Chicago investigation found in January that gun arrests had plummeted during the first few weeks of 2016, and a recent FiveThirtyEight review of the city's arrest data traced a similar trend back to the Nov. 24 release of the video showing the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald.
Still, department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told FiveThirtyEight that arrests rebounded in March, even with a new ACLU-driven traffic stop protocol that many officers say is slowing them down.
Chicago police confiscate guns at nearly seven times the per-capita rate of police in New York, and about twice as often as those in Los Angeles, according to Thursday's statement. Chicago's violent crime rate far outpaces that of both cities.
Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy often touted climbing gun arrest rates as a way of defending officers while calling for tougher gun laws.
"By taking away those guns without having tougher penalties, we're doing exactly what gun manufacturers want," McCarthy said in October, about a month before being fired by Emanuel. "We're just getting people to give them more money, because that demand continues to exist."
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