Chicago violence strategy to track illegal guns

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he is not backing down in the fight to stop Chicago violence. Under a pilot program, detectives will track the "origin and flow" of illegal weapons the city.

"We're having a detective response to every arrest for gun possession in the city of Chicago. It needs to be handled with the severity it deserves," McCarthy said.

That information would be used to arrest and prosecute anyone who was involved in the transfer or sale in the history of the gun.

The superintendent's new strategy was announced as crime stats show September, with 60 homicides, was the deadliest month of the year. It was also the deadliest September in 13 years.

"There's no disputing what's happening here in the city of Chicago. We can point to, right now, in 2015, at least 150 shootings or murders that would not have occurred if we had stricter penalties for gun possession. One hundred and fifty. That's a lot of people getting bullets in them," McCarthy said.

As of the end of September, Chicago police recovered more than 5,419 illegal guns in Chicago this year. They made 2,242 gun-related arrests in the same time period, which is up 25 percent compared to the first nine months of last year.

McCarthy said stricter penalties for illegal gun possession would be the "most obvious, simplest solution."

Community activist Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church agrees stricter penalties are needed, but said they must go beyond the person caught with the illegal gun.

"Just getting the guy on the street who is carrying it, that is one part. But let's stop him from getting the gun, the gun runner," Pfleger said.

The Rev. Anthony Williams wants the strategy to get local and national jurisdictions involved.

"It appears local law enforcement can't handle the problem. The issue is not putting guns down but stopping the flow of illegal handguns in the city," Rev. Williams said.

WATCH: Supt. McCarthy says Chicago needs stricter gun laws


McCarthy said 30 large cities in the U.S. experienced a rise in violence in 2015. He said the common thread was repeat offenders.

"We have the same violent criminals on the streets that shouldn't be there, committing violent acts all the time. The sentencing guidelines have it that three out of four individuals that we arrest for gun possession are back on the street almost immediately," McCarthy said.

In the first nine months of 2015, police said the number of murders increased 21 percent, the number of shooting incidents increased 19 percent and the number of shooting victims increased 14 percent, compared to the same time period in 2014.

LaKeshia Bucker-Smith's father, John Buckner, was unloading groceries when he was shot to death. Buckner worked for the Chicago Police Department.

"The pain that we feel is insurmountable. We'll never be the same," she said.

Police said overall crime - robberies, burglaries and felony thefts - decreased 7 percent in the same time period this year compared to last year.
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