The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

What Gun Advocates Get Wrong About Chicago's Gun Laws

By Kate Shepherd in News on Oct 8, 2015 6:51PM

Getty Images

Republican presidential candidates such as Donald Trump, Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina have been claiming that Chicago's violence surge proves gun control does not work. It's been an argument that various political conservatives and gun advocates have been making for years, but the reality might not be as clear-cut as gun control critics make it out to be.

Chicago's gun laws are not as tough as the candidates claim, and there are some major loopholes that make it relatively easy to get guns, including our proximity to Indiana, a state with virtually no gun restrictions, according to Bloomberg.

There are no gun stores in Chicago, so where are the guns coming from?

About 60 percent of guns recovered in connection with an arrest in Chicago from 2009 to 2013 were from out of state, 24 percent were from Indiana and 22 percent were from parts of Cook County outside the city where gun laws are looser, according to a study conducted by Philip Cook, a Duke public policy professor and economist who works with the University of Chicago Crime Lab.

Most of the more than 7,000 guns Cook researched came from gang members who are skilled at obtaining guns because of the city's lethal gang wars.

"I think that it's more likely that if Chicago did not have tough gun laws they would have higher rates of gun violence than they do have," he told Bloomberg.

The Chicago Police Department tracked the origin of 50,000 guns between 2002 and 2012 and found that 24 percent came from Indiana or Mississippi, according to the New York Times.

A Chicago man pled guilty Wednesday to helping buy 43 firearms from gun shows and people in Indiana to sell on the South Side and was sentenced to nearly three years in prison, the Tribune reported.

Beleaguered police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who is an outspoken gun control advocate, believes that part of the problem is that prison sentences for illegal gun possession aren't long enough. In New York, the mandatory minimum prison sentence for illegal gun possession is 3.5 years but in Cook County the minimum sentence is a year in prison and judges usually stick to the minimum term.

Another reason why the GOP candidates are wrong: Chicago's once-strict gun restrictions have quietly loosened over the years. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Chicago's handgun ban in 2010, the city responded with a gun ordinance with tough regulations but was forced to scrap some of it. Then a federal appeals court overturned Illinois' concealed carry ban in 2012 which opened the door for gun advocates to fight the city's ban on gun stores which are now legal.