CHICAGO (CBS) — Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Thursday that there are “just way too many guns in this city,” and the gun turn-in event that police are sponsoring this weekend can have an effect in reducing violence.
The annual gun turn-in event is set for Saturday. Anyone possessing a gun is invited to turn it in, no questions asked.
Anyone who turns in a real gun will get a $100 gift card. Replicas and BB guns are worth $10.
Critics of such events say such events are largely symbolic, as violent criminals and gang members are not likely to surrender their guns. But McCarthy says that doesn’t mean the program won’t take dangerous weapons off the streets.
“Sometimes it’s not the gang members. It’s their parents or their guardians. I’ve seen it when I’ve done this in the past – I actually had an assault weapon turned in by a gang member’s mother. She went underneath his bed and took the weapon and brought it in to us,” he said.
McCarthy also emphasized that the source of a gun cannot be used to make conclusions about whether it will be used in a violent crime.
“You take the gun that shot Officer Del Pearson – that gun was bought by a 52-year-old woman in 1972, who died in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2006,” McCarthy said. “So if that gun was in a closet somewhere and was stolen in a burglary, that’s a gun that was used in gun violence here, and who knows the cost of what we could be preventing by doing this.”
Pearson was severely wounded on March 19, when he was shot in the chest while chasing a suspect in the South Chicago neighborhood. He was hospitalized for eight days after losing nearly two thirds of his blood.
McCarthy said the bottom line is the city is more than saturated with guns that could get in the hands of a dangerous person.
“We don’t know which gun we get off the street, or out of somebody’s closet, or out from underneath somebody’s bed, that’s going to prevent somebody from getting murdered,” McCarthy said. “There’s just way too many guns in this city. There’s way too many guns in the state of Illinois. And it’s one of those situations that if we don’t do something about it – and everything we do matters – if we don’t do something about it, it’s just going to continue at the rate that it is.”
Gun violence has taken a major toll in Chicago the past two weekends. Last weekend, seven people were killed and 45 were wounded in a rash of shootings around the city – from Uptown on the north to Auburn-Gresham on the south. The weekend before, nine people were killed by gunfire and 53 were wounded.
McCarthy said while no amount of gun violence is acceptable, it is important to remember that overall, the situation is improving.
“We have an unacceptable level of violence,” he said. “But the fact is, every weekend, believe it or not – except for last weekend – we’re doing better than we did the year before, so that the volume of the incidents is certainly unacceptable, but we’ve put methods in place; our gang violence reduction strategy since March has resulted in a decrease in shootings in April and May, and now we’re finishing out June in very good shape – well, not very good shape, but better shape than we were in the last year.”
The gun turn-in event, dubbed “Don’t Kill a Dream, Save a Life,” is on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the following locations:
United Church Of Rogers Park
1545 W. Morse Ave.
Uptown Baptist Church
1011 W. Wilson Ave.
5312 W. North Ave.
Truth And Deliverance International Ministries
5151 W. Madison St.
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church
2622 W. Jackson Blvd.
Corinthians Temple Cogic
4520 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago Islamic Center
3357 W. 63rd St.
Douglas Park Baptist Church
1840 S. Kedzie Ave.
St. Agnes of Bohemia Catholic
2651 S. Central Park Ave.
Greater Harvest MB Church
5141 S. State St.
First Church of Deliverance
4315 S. Wabash Ave.
New Beginnings Church
6620 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive
Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church
4543 S. Princeton Ave.
St. Sabina Church
1210 W. 78th Pl.
Trinity All Nations Church
9600 S. Vincennes Ave.
Bethlehem Star M.B. Church
9231 S. Cottage Grove Avenue Ave.
New Vision of Faith Ministries
447 W. 120th St.
Immaculate Conception Parish
2944 E. 88th Street
New Life Covenant Church
1021 E. 78th St.
Greater Salem Baptist Church
215 W. 71st St.
Liberation Christian Center
6810 S. Ashland Ave.
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church
6248 S. Stewart Ave.
Greater Institutional AME Church
7800 S. Indiana Ave.