CHICAGO – Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed an ordinance Tuesday strictly limiting where and how once-banned gun stores can operate in Chicago, and simultaneously released a report blaming out-of-city gun sales for much of the deadliest street-level violence.
If the City Council passes the ordinance as is, it would, among other things, prohibit gun shops in 99.5 percent of Chicago. Stores would have to video record all transactions and they couldn't sell more than one handgun to a given buyer per month.
The flurry of activity on the gun issue comes ahead of a deadline set by a federal court, which ruled in January that the city's outright ban on gun stores was unconstitutional. It gave the city until July 14 to have gun-store rules in place.
"There is no question it will be the smartest, toughest regulation on gun stores in the country," Janey Rountree, the mayor's deputy chief of staff for public safety, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's designed to prevent gun trafficking and illegal sales in these stores."
But Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said the provisions, including one that would let police inspect gun-store records, seemed geared more toward dissuading anyone from actually opening a gun shop in Chicago.
"They are totally unreasonable," he said about the regulations. With higher taxes than in other cities and with other drawbacks to doing business, he added, "I don't know why anyone would want to start a gun store in Chicago."
The new 15-page report from the city argues that a chief cause of gun violence in the nation's third-largest city is its central location and that so many illegal guns purchased elsewhere end up in Chicago.
Nearly 60 percent of guns used to commit crimes in Chicago between 2009 and 2013 were first bought in states with less stringent gun regulations, the city's report says, adding that in most other states, the majority of guns used in crimes were bought in-state.
"If the supply and access to illegal guns is reduced, Chicago's murder rate will likely drop," it argues.
Pearson disputed that. He said the underlying causes of violence were flagging economic growth, too few jobs and criminals who have profited from Chicago's restrictions on guns.
"You have created a black market for guns and drugs, and then you are surprised by the violence?" he said.
The largest out-of-state sources of illegal guns, the report found, were Indiana, which supplied 19 percent of the guns used in Chicago crimes; Wisconsin, which supplied nearly 7 percent and Mississippi, which accounts for around 4 percent.
To crack down on the state-to-state flow of guns, the report advocates the formation of a multi-state gun-tracing center and tougher federal laws against gun trafficking.
The report also points the finger at a handful of dealers who operate just outside of Chicago borders.
It says nearly 20 percent of guns found at crime scenes were sold by just four dealers – three in suburban Cook County and one in Gary, Indiana. It says such stores should be more accountable when a gun they sell ends up being used in a crime.