CHICAGO — It was another violent weekend on Chicago streets. Six people were killed and there were more than three dozen hurt. But the Chicago Police Department said they’ve hit a big milestone in their efforts to get more guns off the street.
About 5,000 guns, that’s an average of 24 guns per day, were taken off the streets, but the murder rate is still high.
There have been 391 homicides this year, four more than this time last year.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the city needs to create a culture of accountability.
Johnson stood on the corner of 79th and Drexel—the same corner where police arrested 21-year-old Tevion Walker over the weekend for his third weapons offense while he was on parole for a previous weapons charge to highlight Chicago’s gun problem.
He also praised the work of his officers who have taken more than 5,000 firearms off the streets since the beginning of the year.
“We’ve also made 32 percent more gun related arrests and 10 percent more murder arrests than this time last year,” he said.
Police credit those numbers with new technology as well as strengthened partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, like the ATF in tracking the flow of guns and processing shell casings found at crime scenes.
“It just provides more leads for them in trying to find who these shooters might be,” Tom Ahern, ATF, said.
Ahern said 5,000 is a significant number when it comes to guns taken off the street, but he also admits there no way to tell how many more guns are still on the streets. Information like that – according to superintendent johnson needs to come from the community.
“So we know that the people in the neighborhoods hear and know who these individuals are, so when the neighborhoods get sick and tired of it and get fed up and start getting us the information that we need, we’ll see a reduction in crime,” Johnson said.
Johnson said some of the guns are coming from out of state.
“We sit right in the middle of Indiana and Wisconsin that just don’t have the strict gun laws that we have so it’s not a stretch for them to go across the border,” Johnson said.
The superintendent said the reason gun violence is higher in Chicago than other big cities is because those cities have different gun laws.
“They’ve managed to create a mental cultural of accountability, because my goal isn`t to incarcerate more people my goal is send the message that if you pick up a gun, you pay the price for it,” he said.
Johnson credits good police work, improved technology and CPD’s stronger partnership with other law enforcement agencies such as the ATF, which now has an additional 20 agents working in the area.
“Every gun that’s recovered by the CPD is traced through the ATF National Tracing Center,” Ahern said.
And every bullet casing found at a crime scene is processed through its National Integrated Ballistic Identification Network.
“The investigators are able to say this shell casing from this crime today matches a shell casing from six months ago from that crime scene over there so we know that the same gun was used in both incidents,” Ahern said.
It provides a lead as to who the shooter or shooters might be. Ahern says 5,000 is a significant number when it comes to weapons taken off the street, but he also admits there no way to tell how many more guns are still out there.
Illegal gang activity and petty conflicts on social media are two of the driving forces behind the gun violence. It’s leading Johnson to call for more accountability on part of everyone.
Johnson wants a law that allows law enforcement to track handguns after a person buys one. He said until there’s a better tracking system, we’ll continue to see this senseless gun violence.