Independence Day weekend brought a massive wave of gun violence back to Chicago; 82 people were shot and 16 were killed between last Thursday afternoon and early Monday. The city’s top cop is pointing to weak gun laws as a major culprit.
"There has to come a tipping point where this changes," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a press conference on Monday. "The illogical nature of what's happening here — that government can intercede and prevent this from happening is overwhelming. And I refuse to think otherwise in a great country like America that we can continue to allow this to happen — not just on a state, but on a federal level."
McCarthy said that gun sentencing laws are the major source of the violence. He said young gang members often face a greater punishment from their gang for losing their gun than they do from being arrested with one.
McCarthy, a former high-ranking police official in New York City, was asked to compare his experience fighting crime in both cities.
"I can tell you very simply," McCarthy said. "The proliferation of firearms."
The outbreak of gun violence represented a setback for Chicago. The homicide rate is down from its peak in 2012, when it was the only U.S. city to record more than 500 murders. At the same time, shootings are up.
McCarthy denied that part of the blame lies on the police force being overextended due to a combination of understaffing and having to work overtime in neighborhoods with high crime rates. After a similar wave of violence last July 4, the department decided to step up street patrols.
"Going into a holiday weekend like this, we obviously had a plan — [the] plan included putting hundreds of more officers on the streets at the times that we needed them and in the places we needed them," said McCarthy. "What were the results? The results were a lot of shootings and a lot of murders, unfortunately."
McCarthy said it was, “groundhog day here in Chicago again.”
Chicago police has seized over 3,200 illegal firearms this year, more than officers in any other city in the United States. But current laws on gun sentencing have led to a situation where, “too many guns coming in and too little punishment going out,” McCarthy said.