CHICAGO — A comprehensive report released Sunday sheds new light on the scourge of gun violence and where the thousands of guns used by criminals in Chicago are coming from.
Officials from the City of Chicago teamed up with academic and legal experts to detail the problem of guns crossing state lines and ending up in the hands of Chicago criminals in the 2017 Gun Trace Report. Their main questions: where are the weapons coming from, and how could they be stopped?
“This report confirms that the overwhelming majority of the guns that are possessed or used in a crime were originally purchased outside of the city and brought into the City of Chicago,” CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson said.
The report examines 27,500 firearms recovered in Chicago in the three year period from 2013-2016, focusing on the 15,000 bought legally at federally-licensed gun dealers in the U.S. There are no gun shops in Chicago. The report shows that while 40% of the guns used in crimes come from inside Illinois, 60% of them come from out of state.
“We sit in-between states that allow easy purchase of firearms,” Supt. Johnson said. “Somebody from Chicago can go across the border to a gun show and fill up a duffel bag full of guns and bring them back into this city with no oversight.”
If a CPD officer recovers a gun during an arrest, there is a 30% chance it came from Indiana, Mississippi or Wisconsin, according to an official with the mayor’s office.
Retired ATF agent Mark Jones says the problem requires a national or regional solution because the issue isn’t with large scale firearms traffickers, but instead it’s a multitude of small gun runners he compares to a “train of ants.”
“One person comes in with five or six guns, another person comes in with three or four, somebody else comes in with 10,” Jones said. “They sell them in their neighborhoods.”
Delphine Cherry, who lost two children to gun violence, now works with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, pushing the Illinois legislature to pass the “Illinois Gun Dealer Licensing Bill,” which would provide greater oversight on gun sales, including videotaping purchases.
“There are some days I don’t sleep at all, the one thing I can do, I’m at the point where I can only fight,” Cherry said. “If we can stop the flow of crime guns into Chicago, we can stop parents from going through the pain that I experience every day.”
The report also zeroed in on the guns coming from the suburbs into Chicago, showing just ten dealers sold a quarter of all the guns recovered in the last three years.