Last night at 9 our WGN Investigation showed you the devastation caused by one gun from one Mississippi town. Now we`re going to take you to down the blues highway where Chicago`s ties to music has a new rival: It's also a pathway connection to guns.
We begin in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where a favorite son wrote, Sweet Home Chicago.
When Chicagoans hear the city’s anthem, they immediately think of the Blues Brothers.
But Robert Johnson’s name is rarely spoken about it.
In fact, he wrote and recorded it long ago – 1936. That gives you an idea how far back the ties go from Chicago to the Mississippi Delta.
Legend has it that Robert Johnson stopped at the crossroads of life and made a deal with the devil. Some argue, with Chicago’s crime what is these days those involved are playing the same kind of tune.
So we took a road trip to Johnson’s – crossroad - in Clarksdale, at the historic site Highways 61 and 49. That’s where a pawn shop with the same name, “Krossroads”, where more than 50 guns made their way north to Chicago.
In 2006, some of those guns ended with police gun fight. Two men were killed and an officer injured. Another gun was taken off a gangster disciple. Three other guns ended up in the hands of the Blackstone street gang.
The owner of the pawn shop didn’t want to talk to us about the guns from his shop ending up in the hands of gang bangers. But with our hidden cameras rolling he defended his actions and the state of Mississippi.
He said, it’s not Mississippi’s problem that Chicago has so much gun violence. He added, that he wouldn’t live in Chicago if you paid him $10 million dollars a year. When we challenged him that Chicago authorities blame easy Mississippi gun laws for a significant flow of guns north, he went blue. Quoting here: “That’s bull crap. That’s bull crap. That’s bull. They might think it but that’s bull crap. They come from everywhere. Everywhere! I mean they come from any state. I don’t know why they’re tagging Mississippi.”
In part, they’re tagging Mississippi because there is a connection – a strong connection. Folks like Deak Harp, a harmonica player and store owner in Clarksdale, who moved from Chicago.
So did the shop owner down the street.
The Chicago guys who bought the guns from Krossroads Pawn Shop had friends and family living right here. In fact, they used them to get past the stricter gun laws in Illinois. Down South all you need is a clean record and a driver’s license to buy a gun and they’re a lot cheaper in Mississippi.
Krossroad’s owner told us, he changed his policy, selling only one gun at a time. But that doesn’t change the overall numbers.
From the heart of the Delta Blues, which is the small town of Clarksdale, 301 guns were traced from here to Chicago during a recent 5 year period.
None of it seems to matter at the crossroads, especially as you talk to the owner of Krossroads Pawn Shop.
He said he’s sorry to hear about all of Chicago’s violence problems, but that’s it’s simply not Mississippi’s problem. He says it’s a problem with the people in Chicago
He may be right about one thing – the problem is not just Mississippi – but he’s forgetting the Blues Highway runs both ways.