Amid his ongoing efforts to push for criminal justice reform in the United States, President Barack Obama planned to talk Tuesday afternoon to the International Association of Chiefs of Police on implementing tougher gun laws. Serving as the backdrop to the talk is Chicago, the city where the group is holding its annual conference, Obama’s hometown and an area of the U.S. that has long struggled with gun violence.
Gun violence has been sweeping the streets of Chicago for years and only appears to be increasing. By Monday, the number of homicides in the city in 2015 had reached 391 and the number of people shot had reached more than 2,500. Those numbers are up from 330 homicides and 2,100 people shot at the same time last year, according to the Chicago Tribune.
For years, Chicago was widely believed to have some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. The city had a handgun ban, but the restriction was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010. A state-wide concealed carry ban was overturned in 2012 by a federal appeals court. Just last year, the city’s ban on gun stores also was overturned, according to the Associated Press.
Many of the guns that end up in Chicago come from other states, such as Indiana, that have few gun restrictions. Between 2009 and 2013, 60 percent of the illegal guns recovered by Chicago police came from out of state, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Garry McCarthy, Chicago’s police superintendent, told PBS in July that his office has confiscated more illegal guns than police in New York City and Los Angeles have combined. In the first half of 2015, his department confiscated more than 3,400, he said. By early October, that number had reached 5,500. Of the approximately 50,000 guns recovered by Chicago police between 2001 and 2012, more than 7,000 came from Indiana and about 4,200 came from Mississippi, according to the New York Times.
U.S. police chiefs call for background checks for all gun purchases https://t.co/ku9laqpjz7@
— Deborah Summa (@dsumma) October 26, 2015
Gun control has been part of the focus of the police chiefs' conference, where leaders have called for universal background checks on gun buyers, Reuters reported. Prior to Obama’s scheduled talk, the police leaders said they wanted to keep guns away from criminals, and that the increase in the number of guns in the country is a factor in the high rates of homicide in many U.S. cities.
“Far too many states allow individuals to acquire a gun without any questions being asked at all. Is this what we want in our society?" Jim Johnson, chief of police of Baltimore County, said at the conference Monday. "It's like letting 40 percent of people walk through the [Transportation Security Administration] checkpoint at the airport without any check at all. Is that what we want?"