McCarthy: Chicago seizes more illegal guns than any other city nationwide

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Police keep saying too many illegal guns are on the streets of Chicago. But now, new information has surfaced on how many of the weapons wound up there, and how gang members keep the supply flowing.

More than 4800 firearms have been taken off the streets this year, while at the same time, jailhouse interviews with gun offenders are helping to explain how they got there.

“We seize more guns, than any city in the country, every single year,” said Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

On average, McCarthy says one gun has been seized every 72 minutes this year.

When drilling into Chicago's underground gun market, researchers have come up with some surprising results.

“It's not as easy to get a gun as one might think. Especially if you are a young person,” said Harold Pollack of the University of Chicago.

Pollack interviewed 100 gun offenders in the Cook County Jail. The conclusion is that they don't get their firearms over the internet, or at gun shows, or even gun shops. 

“If they get hold of a gun, there's someone in their social network, a gang connection that they have, who is helping them get hold of a weapon,” Pollack said.

McCarthy, though, says the acquaintances who are providing guns probably obtain them illegally.

“That's not the source. That’s the end of where the gun comes from. The source probably goes back to straw purchasing, which is the most common method that those guns hit the street,” McCarthy said.

The Superintendent points to case of 14-year-old Endia Martin. Police say she was shot and killed by another 14-year-old girl in a fight over a boyfriend. She allegedly received the gun from her uncle, after he had obtained it from a straw purchaser.

“The gun was bought by somebody with an FOID card, transferred illegally, transferred again, and the next thing you know, we've got a dead kid,” McCarthy said.

The Superintendent says straw purchasers ought to face tougher penalties.

As for reducing the number of homicides in Chicago, McCarthy says it starts with understanding that illegal possession of guns is the gateway to murder.