CHICAGO (CBS) — Eight people were slain in various shootings in Chicago over the weekend, but Chicago police maintain their crime-fighting strategies are working.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, the way the law reads now, police appear to be more successful at seizing firearms than the gang-bangers who are using them.
Monday morning, police showed off a big haul of guns seized in one police district alone.
The haul came from the Calumet District on the Far South Side, where tactical teams have confiscated more firearms than any other district in the city.
A number of the firearms on display Monday were assault weapons, like a Chinese-made AK-47 knock-off. Police also showed off several 30-round clips that fit into assault weapons and handguns alike.
Police Lt. Sean Loughran said all five firearms seized by the district this weekend alone had extended magazines.
Police said the problem is state gun laws aren’t tough enough to put away the suspects after taking away their guns.
“They know that if they carry a gun, and we catch them, unless they have an extremely horrendous background, they’re going to be slapped with a misdemeanor and be on their way out the door,” First Deputy Supt. Al Wysinger said.
Also Monday, President Barack Obama kept up his push for Congress to pass tougher gun laws.
The president has urged passage of bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and a requirement for background checks for all gun purchases. But he said Congress also needs to take mental health issues and school safety more seriously, and help local police departments hire and train more officers.
“It’s not only the high-profile mass shootings that are of concern here, it’s also what happens on a day-in, day-out basis in places like Chicago or Philadelphia where young people are victims of gun violence every single day,” Obama said.
As the President spoke to a friendly crowd in Washington, D.C. – including Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy – his words might have meant more to Shirley Chambers, who was preparing to bury her fourth child who died from gun violence. Ronnie Chambers, 33, was slain in the Lawndale neighborhood on Saturday.
His three siblings also died in shootings in Chicago in past years. His brother, Jerome, was killed at the age of 23 outside a building in the Cabrini Green public housing complex in 2000. Two months earlier, his sister LaToya, 15 at the time, was gunned down by a 13-year-old boy.
Five years earlier, their brother Carlos, 18 at the time, was shot and killed on a sidewalk in the South Loop.
Their mother, Shirley Chambers, spoke with CBS’s Dean Reynolds on Monday.
“These people with these guns … they shouldn’t have the guns, you know? Because if you could take someone’s life, it’s just senseless. You should have stiffer penalties for that,” she said.
Earlier this year, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the state’s ban on carrying concealed firearms, and gave state lawmakers six months to come up with a law to allow concealed carry.
Democratic legislative leaders still hope to strictly limit those who would be allowed to carry concealed weapons.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) said lawmakers have no choice but to allow some form of concealed carry.
“If we don’t pass a law, there’ll be the Wild West. Then people can just walk down the street with a loaded gun, without any limitations,” he said.
Despite the public outcry and overwhelming sentiment for tougher gun laws, the chances are slim for a ban on assault weapons or high-capacity clips on either the federal or state level.
The only thing that seems a sure thing is that there’ll be more guns on the street — thanks to the appeals court ruling on concealed carry — but elected officials will try harder to keep them away from the wrong people.