A new study on guns seized by Chicago police shows that suburban gun shops are a main source of guns used in crimes in the city.
The research shows that some 29 percent of the guns recovered on Chicago's streets between 2008 and the end of March were bought in the Cook County suburbs. Lake County, Ind., was the second largest source, accounting for six percent of the weapons, and other counties surrounding Chicago – including Lake County, Ill., and Will, DuPage and Kane counties – were also in the top 10 sources.
Two gun stores in suburban Lyons and Riverdale accounted for more than 10 percent of the guns recovered.
The Chicago police obtained the data from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the agency that traces guns for local police, and the department turned to the University of Chicago Crime Lab for analysis.
The study covers 17,230 guns the ATF successfully traced after they were recovered in Chicago. Many guns can't be traced because of their age or other factors, said Seth Bour, the Crime Lab's deputy director.
As police look for a solution to the gun violence that plagues Chicago, the numbers help investigators identify the paths guns take from being sold legally to being carried illegally or used in crimes, said Roseanna Ander, the lab's executive director.
The numbers don't mean gun stores are violating any rules, as guns are often stolen from their legal owners or bought by "straw purchasers" who pass them to criminals who would be prohibited from buying firearms, Ander said.
Ander said she was surprised by the percentage of guns that came from Illinois, rather than from neighboring states with comparatively relaxed gun laws. About 42 percent of the guns came from Illinois. Indiana ranked second, contributing 18 percent of the guns, and Wisconsin accounted for about 4 percent.