CN Nov 9 2017 Jeremy Gorner

The City of Chicago and the University of Chicago recently released their Gun Trace report, an exhaustive study of about 21,000 guns the Chicago Police confiscated from our streets in hotel past three years. They were able to trace about 15,000 of them to their original purchasers, and, to probably no-one’s surprise, 95% of the guns were not in the hands of the original, legal purchasers.

Jeremy Gorner was part of the Tribune’s writing team that examined the report and write the Trib’s story. They concluded that a key finding of the Trace report was that forty percent of the recovered guns were first purchased right here in Illinois. And of those guns, the vast majority were purchased in a handful of gun shops close to Chicago’s borders. They’re in suburbs like Lyons, Lincolnwood, Riverdale and Melrose Park. And one gun shop, Suburban Sporting Goods, has the lowest “time to crime”  of all. That refers to the time between the purchase and when its used on the street in a crime.

In fact, Gorner tells us it was “the lowest I believe in the top ten here…and I spoke to them about that finding, and what they basically were saying was that look, they don’t do anything different they say than any other gun shops in the area. They sell to people who have a right to buy them. What happens outside of the store is really out of their control.”

The store is a completely legal business, licensed by the federal government. And they do have, Gorner says, surveillance cameras and a wall separating the product from the entrance door. The only way onto the sales floor is with the display of your FOID card. But their sales have increased dramatically because of changes in America’s political climate.

“You know the Conceal Carry Law in Illinois passed I believe in 2014, so you have more people who want to come and buy guns now that they can buy them,” Gorner adds. “And that’s the thing though, is there’s been a lot of resistance. Chicago had that handgun ban up until around 2010, and there’s been resistance to have a gun shop being open in Chicago, so now they have to go to the suburbs, and with the Conceal Carry Law they can go to the suburbs, buy guns at places like Suburban Sporting Goods.”

And let’s not forget the “Obama effect.”

“There was a lot of fear among the pro-gun rights advocates that the democrats would enact stricter legislation. So all these factors came into play according to them as to why sales went up and why more of their guns were seen on the street. Now the other thing about this particular gun shop is that Melrose Park is five to ten miles from the west side of Chicago. If you look at the maps of where these guns are ending up a lot of… the guns are ending up on the west side. So here’s Suburban Sporting Goods. Look how close it is to the west side. And unfortunately, a lot of the shootings, a lot of the gun violence is concentrated in the Harrison patrol district and the Austin patrol district on the west side”

The Gun Trace report does confirm that the majority – 60% – of crime guns are brought into Chicago from nearby states, primarily Indiana. And many of those Indiana guns come from licensed stores, too – such as Cabelas, which appears to be the biggest single source in the state.

As an interesting side note, the ATF complained about the report, claiming that the city had used the data in an “unlawful” way, because of federal laws restricting research into the tracing of gun ownership.

You can listen to this program on SoundCloud.

And you can read full transcript of the program HERE:CN transcript November 9 2017


About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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