Chicago/ Politics & Govt
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Published on April 07, 2024
Chicago's Fight Against Gun Violence: Federal Prosecutors Approve Fewer Gun Charges Despite Surge in Seized FirearmsSource: Google Street View

While Chicago grapples with its persistent gun violence issue, there's a mixed bag of developments coming to light. The city is awash in firearms, and despite a significant number of weapons seized by law enforcement, federal prosecutors in the Windy City have been taking a conservative stance, approving less gun charges compared to their peers across the nation. A recently unveiled report by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, referred to as "the most comprehensive look at America's crime gun data in over two decades" by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, shows Chicago is second only to Houston in crime gun traces, as per the Chicago Sun-Times.

In the backdrop of these numbers stands the fact that homicides and shootings in Chicago have witnessed a 13% downturn in 2023. The Chicago Police Department stresses that these figures are the lowest since 2019, signaling an aggressive approach to tackle the problem and perhaps a glimmer of change. Nevertheless, as it was pointed out by the CPD, the homicide total last year was still amongst the highest the city has faced since 2004, as documented by WTTW News.

The ATF report indicates that over the five-year period covered, more than half of the guns originally were purchased out of state and 37,657 guns were traced in Chicago. Nonetheless, the Northern District of Illinois, which includes Cook County, had federal prosecutors approving just 45% of the gun cases that were presented to them, placing them in the bottom ranks of the country's 94 federal court districts.

Despite dropping figures in violent crimes, it's been reported that other offenses, including robbery and motor vehicle thefts, experienced significant jumps by 23% and 37%, respectively. According to the Chicago Police Department, efforts to combat such crimes will continue, with an emphasis on building "stronger bonds amongst our residents, support the victims of crime and protect all Chicagoans," a statement obtained by WTTW News noted.

Meanwhile, Chicago's city officials have not been idle. Past administrations have initiated legal efforts to drag gun traffickers into the spotlight. Mayor Brandon Johnson, for instance, aimed his sights at Glock, a leading gun manufacturer, over designs that facilitate the conversion of semiautomatic pistols to machine guns linked with many mass shootings in the city, an approach documented by the Chicago Sun-Times.