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Police: Tougher Gun Laws Would Have Saved Lives This Year

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Oct 12, 2015 2:39PM

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The Chicago Police Department is renewing its call for stricter gun laws, arguing that they would have kept some 160 people arrested on weapons charges behind bars who later went on to commit homicides with guns or get killed themselves just this year.

A department analysis of shooting data showed that 74 of this year's shooting victims were previously in jail over illegal gun possession, but were freed after receiving probation or finishing serving jail time, according to the Sun-Times. Meanwhile, at least 86 current shooting suspects were also freed after being jailed on illegal gun possession charges.

While it's impossible to know how many lives would have been saved if there were a minimum sentence of three years in prison over gun possession, police officials say this data shows the need for a three-year minimum sentence. That proposal may face critics concerned over the strain on the state's overcrowded prison system.

The announcement comes on the heels of calls in the City Council for police chief Garry McCarthy to be ousted over a recent surge in gun violence. McCarthy's administration says they are working in Springfield to get a stricter law over gun possession on the books quickly. Right now Illinois' minimum sentence for gun possession is one year.

This weekend was unseasonably warm, and the city saw three dead and at least 17 wounded in shooting incidents. They include a drive-by in Washington Park and the fatal shooting of a teenager in a car in East Garfield Park, according to the Tribune.

Through last week, police have counted about 370 homicides and at least 2,249 shooting victims this year. A recent study found that Chicago experiences more mass shootings—shootings of four or more people in the same location at the same time—than any other U.S. city.