Blame weak gun laws for holiday violence, Chicago's top cop says

Outrage over Chicago's holiday shootings

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Story highlights

  • Mayor calls violence "simply unacceptable"
  • Police superintendent lashes out at lax gun laws
  • Shootings claim 9 lives, wound more than 60 others over the holiday weekend
  • "Too many guns coming in and too little punishment going out," he says

Chicago's police superintendent lashed out at what he called lax state and federal gun laws after a violent Fourth of July weekend that saw more than 60 people shot and nine killed in a city already known for frequent shootings.

"There has to come a tipping point where this changes," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Monday of the violence. "The illogical nature of what's happening here -- that government can intercede and prevent this from happening is overwhelming. And I refuse to think otherwise in a great country like America that we can continue to allow this to happen -- not just on a state, but on a federal level."

McCarthy, reciting the criminal histories of several of the suspects in this weekend's violence, noted gang members face tougher consequences for losing their guns from their gangs than from authorities.

"Possession of a loaded firearm -- it's not even considered a violent felony in the state of Illinois for sentencing purposes -- which is why you see the revolving door," he said.

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Among the suspects: a man wanted in connection with a murder who has 21 prior arrests, and another with six previous arrests, including one this year for aggravated assault for discharging a weapon.

"How this individual is out on bond is beyond me," McCarthy said.

The incidents include eight times in which police fired guns at suspects or were fired on, McCarthy told reporters. In two of those incidents, police shot and killed the suspects, both of whom were 16.

McCarthy said the violence unraveled a string of successes by police in suppressing gun violence this year. The city saw 21 shooting incidents on Sunday alone, he said, although three of them may have been self-inflicted.

Marlin Williams' niece Tonya Gunn was among the nine victims, killed in a drive-by shooting Sunday night while she was cooking food on the grill. Her 11-year-old daughter witnessed the shooting.

"I feel hurt," Williams said Monday. "I will never be able to see my niece again."

In 2013, 12 people died and 75 were injured during the four-day Independence Day holiday, according to CNN affiliate WLS.

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The holiday shootings follow a week in which Chicago had 52 shooting incidents, according to Police Department statistics. This year, as of June 29, Chicago police had recorded 880 shooting incidents, an average of nearly five a day.

McCarthy said Monday, "It's Groundhog Day here in Chicago."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the violence "simply unacceptable" and said the city needs to go beyond policing and provide youths "alternatives to the street."

McCarthy said police will continue a summer program to flood high-violence areas with police, but he said that without stronger gun laws, police will continue to face an uphill battle.

"These offenders need to be held fully accountable for violent behavior to prevent them from ending up back on the street too soon," he said, adding, "There's too many guns coming in and too little punishment going out."

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