Donald Trump said during the debate that Chicago has what he described as the country’s toughest gun laws, yet it has high levels of gun violence (continuing a trend of the Republican candidate regularly invoking Chicago when discussing bloodshed). Trump has made similar comments before.
Chicago does have strict gun laws, even if they are not as tough as Trump and others would believe. But Chicago also does not exist in a bubble. Strict gun laws in Chicago do not prevent someone from, say, bringing a gun into the city from neighboring Indiana. Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from between 2010 and 2014 found that a remarkable number of guns in Illinois came from Indiana, according to The Trace.
People also obtained guns other ways. A survey last year of inmates at Cook County Jail published in Preventive Medicine found that the Chicago-area inmates who spoke to researchers said they largely did not buy guns from gun stores store or steal their weapons. Instead, most of these people got their guns from people in their social networks. Some inmates said they had shared guns or held them for others.
Police in Chicago, who are confronting skyrocketing numbers of homicides this year, say they believe the spiking violent crime levels are largely due to repeat offenders with illegal guns. And police say they have been fighting this, in part, by confiscating guns. Through this summer, authorities had seized nearly 6,000 guns, taking an illegal gun off of Chicago’s streets every 59 minutes, the Chicago police department said.
Authorities there have also said that they believe the violence is fueled by repeat gun offenders who have previously been arrested for gun crimes, saying that a key to fighting the surge in crime is giving them tougher sentences.
“Repeat gun offenders who drive the violence on our streets should not be there in the first place and it is time to changes the laws to ensure these violent offenders are held accountable for their crimes,” Eddie Johnson, the Chicago police superintendent, said this summer.