Some 3,400 illegal guns have been confiscated so far this year, according to the city’s police department.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy expressed his frustration with the gun situation at a news conference Sunday, standing beside tables filled with the various guns. McCarthy pleaded for harsher sentencing in illegal gun possession cases.
“It’s real simple,” he said at the conference. “Gun possessors are potential murderers. If they don’t learn a lesson for carrying the gun, they keep carrying the gun. They get into an argument, now instead of fighting, they shoot.”
Specifically, McCarthy cited the shooting death of seven-year-old Amari Brown, who was killed close to midnight on Saturday, WGN News reported. Police believed Amari’s father was the intended target in the shooting, McCarthy said. Amari’s father has gang connections, the superintendent said, and his most recent in a long series of arrests was for gun possession in April.
“If Mr. Brown is in custody, his son is alive,” McCarthy said, arguing Brown should have faced a harsher penalty for the gun possession charge.
“This has got to stop,” he added. “We can put another 10,000 police officers on the street and what would happen? Maybe we’ll arrest Mr. Brown 90 times and nothing will happen.”
McCarthy said this year at least 12 people have already been arrested on their second gun possession charge and then released.
“We need some help here, folks. We have to fix this broken system.”
Chicago is infamous for its consistently high homicide rate. As of this weekend, Chicago has had more than 220 murders this year, with over 1,300 shootings, according to local media databases. This is up from last year, when there were 188 murders by the end of June, the Chicago Tribune’s database shows.
Law enforcement officials often dread the summer months, with warm weather driving more people outside and creating more opportunities for incidents. Chicago also experienced a troubling Memorial Day holiday weekend, which saw nine killed and 31 others injured, NBC News reported.
“I didn’t even hear anything with all the fireworks,” Hollie Williams, who lived in the area where Amari was shot Saturday, told the Chicago Tribune. Williams said she first got the news from her nine-year-old son who had been outside. “I was shocked he knew the difference between gunshots and fireworks.”
Illinois passed a “concealed carry” law in the summer of 2013, which allows qualified citizens to carry a firearm, loaded or unloaded, on their person or within their vehicle. Last summer, Chicago’s city council passed restrictions on firearms sales in the city, requiring all purchases to be videotaped and restricting buyers to one gun a month, the Los Angeles Times reported.