Indiana guns: Favorite of Chicago gangbangers

In six years, 3,824 guns taken off Chicago gang bangers that were used in crimes came from our next door neighbor: Indiana. It’s why WGN Investigates took undercover cameras over the border to see why.

Our producer and photographer walked in to an Indianapolis gun show one recent Saturday afternoon wearing undercover camera gear. They listened as one gun dealer showed them a semi-automatic with a 30 round magazine.

Asked why anyone would need that, the dealer said, “Everybody needs something.”

For a $5 dollar entry fee, you can buy all sorts of stuff at the gun show – bullets, handbags with hidden pockets, and of course, guns.  The law for buying a gun is different for those who live in Indiana than those who live in Illinois.

It’s so easy here, the dealers joked with our producer and photographer about it. One bragging, “We deal with Illinois residents all the time and we invite them to come to Indiana.”

Another dealer said, “As long as you’re an Indiana resident and you don’t have any trouble, I just write down your name and address so if they come knocking on my door, and say this gun was used in a robbery, well this is who I sold it to and then you got to explain what you did.”

But it’s easy to scam. Like one now infamous guy who simply used a fake Indiana drivers license. David “Big Man” Lewisbey filled a duffle bag with 9 millimeter and 40-caliber handguns. He bought them at various gun shows then sold them to gang bangers in Chicago for big bucks.

Tom Ahern, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says, not only it is easier to buy in Indiana than Illinois, it’s cheaper too. He says the combination has meant a steady flow of guns to Chicago that are involved in crime.

What Lewisbey didn’t know at the time was the feds were watching him. Said Ahern of the ATF, “There’s a large number of individuals at gun show that are selling their personal collections and they’re not holding the buyers to any kind of criminal background check or any paperwork of those transactions.”

That’s the missing link – as Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy put it, the gun show loophole. He says a big reason why more than 3,000 confiscated guns from crimes have come from Indiana. McCarthy says of the loophole, you have a federal firearms licensee, a dealer, who does a quick background check at one table. Right next to him at another table is a private collector who is not, by law, forced to check a buyer’s background.

That makes it awfully tough to trace when a gun is used in a crime. And that’s why this case against Lewisbey and his partners is so important.

Back in 2007, Lewisbey was a Thornton Township High School football lineman who made his way to college. Like many students, he kept a “to do” list that included, the first day of school.

But the rest of the list is like none other. Mid-way through on his things “to do” list is “Get guns back up.” Think about that for a moment – a college student who keeps a summer “to do” list that includes buying guns for gang bangers.

Ahern says it’s clear the word is on the street that if you want a gun, cash and carry, go to Indiana, bring it to Illinois and use it or sell it for a good profit.

In one 48 hour period, Lewisbey delivered 43 guns to a guy with ties to the Gangster Disciples – many purchased at gun shows.

WGN’s Mark Suppelsa asked the Indianapolis gun show owner if he ever sees a buyer fill up a duffle bag, even though it’s perfectly legal. The man said, most of the criminals know not to come to his gun show because he allows law enforcement to come inside for free to deter crime.

Whether this promoter is just naive or in denial, it is happening. Perhaps, he’s been more fortunate than most.

But that still doesn’t impress Chicago’s top cop. Since guns continue to flow across the border he’s had to switch tactics. He’s now working harder to partner with the feds to catch guns moving state to state. When we asked if it’s working, McCarthy said we’re up against it like a screen door on a submarine.

In May, Lewsiby was sentenced to 16 years and 6 months in prison for a gun running smuggling operation. His partner got nearly 11 ½ years.

 

 

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16 comments

  • Mike

    Guns may be easy to get in Indiana yet they don’t have the issues that Chicago does. Gun laws only affect the law abiding citizens. A criminal isn’t going going to abide by stricter laws if they don’t abide by current laws. Look at Chicago’s hand gun ban that worked well…

  • Tikka Bolt

    The problem in Chicago is not guns, the problem is politicians. It’s the politicians that have spread resources so thin that convicted criminals spend a fraction of their sentences and go back out on the street to commit more crime.

  • Dr. Jose Mariachi

    “Another dealer said, “As long as you’re an Indiana resident and you don’t have any trouble, I just write down your name and address so if they come knocking on my door, and say this gun was used in a robbery, well this is who I sold it to and then you got to explain what you did.”

    Generally, a firearm may not lawfully be sold by a licensed dealer to a non-licensee who resides in a State other than the State in which the seller’s licensed premises is located. However, the sale may be made if the firearm is shipped to a licensed dealer whose business is in the purchaser’s State of residence and the purchaser takes delivery of the firearm from the dealer in his or her State of residence.

    [18 U.S.C. 922(b)(3)]

  • Michael

    I find this all to be complete nonsense. I am from Illinois, I went to a gun show in Indiana last month because I had business close by and knew the show was that weekend. I was interested in a certain handgun and the price was about $100 cheaper brand new then my local Illinois gun store. I am not a criminal and hold a FOID card in Illinois. The fact that I was from Illinois made buying this gun impossible. They would not sell me the gun because I was from Illinois on the spot, I would have to fill out a whole bunch of Federal paperwork AND have the gun transferred to a FFL holder in Illinois. The cost of all that? More then the $100 that I would have saved. Yes there was a time when you just buy a gun at a gun show, no questions asked. This it not the case anymore, there were Gary gang task force police officers at the doors even the gun show was FAR from Gary, BATF agents all over the place and the most important part that they leave out is you must be an Indiana resident.
    “If you are from another state you cannot buy a gun in Indiana” was the one dealers exact quote verbatim. That holds true. Plus he said that if you are not in any trouble which for those who don’t know is a NICS – FBI check which takes about a minute. It not like that even if you are a criminal in Indiana that you can buy a gun. A very sensational piece but the gun show loop hole is long closed. David Lewisbey had a FAKE Indiana drivers license 7 years ago. That’s a pretty serious offense in any State. The only reason it is a semi issue is because one man broke the law and got caught. Illinois likes to overly police it’s legal gun owners with the FOID act while most other states follow the Second Amendment. Do you think the criminals care about the laws? I did buy that gun here, it was on sale and did it legally. I waited the 72 hours and got it for close to the same price. By the way before anyone starts with NRA gun nut BS, I’m just an honest citizen who happens to live in Illinois. “We deal with Illinois residents all the time and we invite them to come to Indiana.” They cannot even fathom the restrictions that we have to deal with. They want people from Illinois to move to Indiana. It is harder to get a FOID card in Illinois then a carry permit in Indiana. This piece even with editing did not show one illegal act. It was hack reporting and I would think that Mark Suppelsa would have more integrity.

    • Sarcasm.

      Shhh! You’ll ruin the whole thing man! Didn’t you know? They are so easy to get, and the gun show loopholes! Someones got to be blamed, and it sure as hell can’t be chicago!!!! The gun laws there are top notch, so it MUST be someone elses fault.
      signed,
      Sarcasm.

  • Michael Meador

    Logic: When you won’t assume responsibility, point at someone or something that won’t indicate your incompetence.
    In this case: blame Indiana and guns. The real shame in Chicago’s murder rate is the fact of lapse law enforcement and weak criminal punishment. And just who is the “criminal”? Typically a black/hispanic gang banger/drug pusher. Of course that would be racially profiling to go after them. I say it’s RACIST to protect those infested ghettos who are tax dependents and who sustain corrupt Democrat/Mob politicians.

    • David Cobb

      It is the Chicago way to blame something or someone else. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy blames Indiana gun shows when they actually have nothing to do with the problem. There are so many cops both local and federal at them that you would have to insane to try and pull off something illegal. There are “NO PRIVATE SALES” signs all over the place and the patron to cop ratio is 10:1. “Whether this promoter is just naïve or in denial, it is happening”. Really with cops all over the place and “NO PRIVATE SALES” signs everywhere? WGN did not show that in this BS
      “news” story. Every LEGAL sale that is made to Indiana residents goes through the Federal NICS background check system. Instead of following the laws they have on the books they let criminals plea bargain their sentences down. Case in point: David Lewisbey, the guy who did this 7 years ago and what this BS story is really about. Charged Federally he should have gotten a Federal 10 year sentence on each count. 43 counts X 10 years = 430 years. That law was on the books and was when he did this. Instead he gets 16 years state time, he will be out in less then 8. The Federal felon with a gun charge 18 USC § 922(g) & (n) of 10 years is usually plead down to less then 24 months state time with the crime they committed that got them caught with a gun in the first place. That’s your screen door on a submarine. Hey McCarthy and Ahern, why not do the Captain Obvious thing and follow the laws that are in place instead of making BS excuses?

  • Ozzallos

    Okay, lets ask the *hard* question: What’s up with Chicago? Why Chicago and not Indiana? Let’s at least be honest here: Why isn’t the source of the guns being swallowed up in the same epidemic of crime and murder that you’ll only report on if you can tie it to a gun story and not the human tragety that Chiago actually is?

    And in other news, person engages in illegal activity (fake ID) to engage in other illegal activity, then uses it commit other illegal activity (illegal firearms purchase). Congratulations– You learned that laws are worthless if one chooses to ignore them. Clearly more laws would motivate that person not to commit more crimes, amirite? Bending law-biding citizens over is the answer here?

    You may be right. it’s happening. Chicago is a cauldron of violent activity. But no matter how much you wish otherwise, the gun is still only a tool. Take the tool away and they’ll find another. But guns? Sure, why not. That’s the lazy, headline grabbing answer to everything and nothing.

  • Frank Castle

    I live in Virginia and getting a concealed carry permit is relatively easy here (I’m retired military so I do have training). Also Virginia allows open carry if you can legally own a gun. The Anti gun crowd in Cook County, IL are just so out of touch with how to stop all these gun deaths, it really just is amazing. The people in Cook County (mostly Chicago) that are responsible for these terrible gun deaths are CRIMINALS, specifically GANG MEMBERS. The way to stop this problem is:

    A. Allow responsible law abiding citizens to carry a gun on their person almost everywhere. If they take the train or the bus to work, let them carry their firearm, concealed. Believe me, when criminals find out that large numbers of people are packing heat, robberies and assaults will drop off on trains and buses.
    B. Declare gangs and their members TERRORISTS under state law. Update the law on an annual basis (the gangs will try to change their names to slip by the law). If you belong to a terrorist gang, you go to jail for a minimum of 5 years, no exceptions. Also, put those locked up gang members in work details cleaning up grafitti and trash in the city as part of their sentence.

    There is more but the politicians in Cook County don’t really want to do these things because once they show they work, they will be shown to be failures and poor stewards of their communities. They will also be voted out of office. So, they will continue to blame others for their problem.

  • Robert Bickell

    Frank great idea but it won’t work for many reasons. First Illinois and Cook County have made laws that actively discourage legal gun ownership. We have concealed carry in Illinois but the second the law was passed, the signs went up – No guns on the premises. Basically no guns on buses or trains. As for making new laws, they don’t use the ones we already have. See above – the guy should have done 430 years. 18 USC § 922(g) & (n) – the ATFs bread and butter charge 10 years NO EXCEPTIONS. As for putting gang members in work details they will just refuse to work. The ACLU will defend them in court and say that it is cruel and unusual punishment. Basically if they refuse to work for a living, you actually expect them to work in confinement? They don’t mind going to prison, it is a second home to them and they get to hang out with their homeys for a while. The truth of the matter is most of the gun crimes are GANGBANGERS SHOOTING OTHER GANGBANGERS so nobody really cares. I don’t, go ahead and keep killing each other. It is much easier to just blame the problems on somebody else but really most people don’t care, these people will eventually kill each other off. As for the “innocent” 10 year old who gets killed, why is your kid outside at 2:30 AM? Why aren’t they in bed? As for the few truly innocent victims, that is a tragedy but the whole community knows who did it and everyone keeps their mouths shut until there is a large reward. No, the easy way out for the Police and Politicians is to blame the problem on somebody else. This week Indiana gun shows, next week somebody else and the media will keep reporting it no matter how silly it is.

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