Where do Chicago crime guns come from?

The New York Times‘ Monica Davey has a nice story this morning with some pretty maps detailing where guns used in Chicago crimes actually come from. The story rests on an empirical analysis performed by my terrific University of Chicago Crime Lab colleague Seth Bour. Many of the guns seized by Chicago police come from just outside the city limits, purchased in gun stores located in collar communities. Definitely worth a look.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

38 thoughts on “Where do Chicago crime guns come from?”

  1. Seems somewhat mindless, in the implication that, if only the surrounding areas with lower crime rates adopted Chicago’s harsh laws, too, crime might go down in Chicago. Gun laws in the surrounding state are already considerably harsher than most states. So, the answer to Chicago’s problems is to impose Chicago style laws on the entire country?

    But the entire country, pretty much, has Chicago style drug laws, and drugs still make their way into Chicago. So, maybe the answer is to impose Chicago style laws on the entire world?

    There comes a point where you have to stop blaming your problems on other people, and admit that the reason you’ve got a higher crime rate than your neighbors is because of something to do with you, not them.

    1. There comes a point where you have to stop blaming your problems on other people…

      As about as elucidative as this:

      There comes a point where you have to stop blaming problems by people blaming for blaming their problems on other people…

      All in favor of retiring Brett’s Archie Bunker cliche… please raise your firearm, and fire once straight up…
      Oh wait a second:

      A 4-year-old boy has died after being shot in the head Wednesday. … The deputy [sheriff] located the child’s body inside of a Ford Taurus. There was a bullet hole in the roof of the car. … “Jamarcus loved Batman, Spider-Man and football and was looking forward to starting kindergarten,” [his mother] said.


    2. Brett, do consider that one does not have to attach a blame or an agenda to gathering and reporting data.

      You get the data, verify it, and use it as a tool to shape policy. I could see this data leading to politicians deciding a localized gun shop ban is hopelessly ineffective, changing the law. Just stop, as others have said, jumping to the hobby horse as the first instinct.

      1. Politicians seldom collect data without already having an agenda, and essentially never on this topic. The city has effectively banned gun stores from it’s borders, there are no gun manufacturers within it’s borders. Shocking revelation, that the guns in Chicago originated elsewhere… Shocking revelation, that the people didn’t go further than they had to, to get them.

        Here is my prediction: The ‘revelation’ that locally banning gun stores doesn’t keep guns out of Chicago will NOT result in the city of Chicago lifting the ban because it’s futile. They will instead try to get the stores outside their border shut down.

        1. You are a terminal cynic then, if you think there is always a fixed agenda. Imagine a world where at least some folks earnestly want to see data.

          And the original story, as reported in a newspaper, is not collected by politicians.

          p.s. My ‘imagine’ lyrics are not as good as Lennon’s.

        2. In fact, I’ll suggest that regardless of Chicago’s gun laws, knowing where guns used in crimes are bought is useful for law enforcement.
          It could give you a clue where illicit gun purchases originated.
          Where local criminals may have migrated from.
          Gang origination.

          It’s a crazy step to claim that all such knowledge necessarily is driven by some nefarious agenda.

          1. But I don’t claim that it necessarily is so driven.

            Look, if a pedophile seeks a job with a daycare they don’t necessarily have nefarious motives. “Necessarily” is a remarkably high burden. As they say, “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.”

            A gun controller isn’t always going to be seeking data about guns just to have an excuse to impose gun control, or help in imposing it. But that’s the way to bet.

            It’s a consistent theme when discussing gun control with liberals: You’re always asking us to ignore past experience, and respond to the same old same old with a mindless presumption of good faith. But as I always say: You’re not Lucy, and I’m sure as heck not Charlie Brown, so stop asking me to kick that football.

            That’s not cynicism, that’s the voice of experience.

          2. Apparently the CDC was developing strong, statistically valid evidence that having a gun in the home increased the probability of death for all members of the household. That contradicted a standard trope of the gun fetishists, so the post-Heston NRA called in its markers and had the CDC study shut down. This is the reason for Mr. Bellmore‘s absolute fury at the mention of scientific research into the consequences of gun ownership.


          3. Yeah, in an alternate universe, maybe. In this universe the research was being done by notorious hacks with a track record of bad research. You’re speaking, I assume, of the Kellerman research. You know, the guy who refuses to release his data to other researchers, so that they can check it? Even though it was publicly funded, the CDC gave it’s group of gun researchers dispensation to not share their data for other researchers to check their conclusions. Now, why would they do that? Maybe because they knew it wouldn’t stand up to examination?

          4. The gunman stormed into the school bus Tuesday afternoon and demanded that the driver hand him a child. The driver, 66-year-old Charles Poland Jr., was a gentle Bible-reading man who could not stand to discipline the children on his bus because it hurt his heart, the Dothan Eagle newspaper reported. When he refused the demand, police said, the gunman shot him several times as 22 horrified children scrambled for cover. But the man was able to grab the boy and drag him to his underground bunker.


          5. So your first analogy is to compare a person researching gun violence to a pedophile.

            And also pre-judge the researcher as “a gun controller”. You are fixing your blinders, lest you see some data that offends.

          6. Reading comprehension problems? No, I was analogizing gun controllers to pedophiles. Just as a pedophile, if they seek a job dealing with children, can be presumed to have ulterior motives, (But do not have them as a matter of logical necessity.) gun controllers who seek opportunities to ‘research’ guns can be presumed to have ulterior motives. (But do not have them as a matter of logical necessity.)

            And that Prof. Kellerman is a gun controller, not a neutral researcher, is hardly in doubt, given his work output. There are ‘researchers’ you know in advance will ‘find’ what you want, and Kellerman is one of them.

          7. Ok, comparing gun controllers to child rapists. You are still talking nonsense.
            Gun controllers have a motivation to prevent harm. Child rapists, not so much.

            Not here to specifically defend Prof. Kellerman – I didn’t find his name in the original story. (ps – I’ll show you John Lott to counter the Kellerman reference. If we’re counting hacks on opposing sides rather than weighing facts.)

            and your quote was “essentially never on this topic” which is damn close to Necessarily.

          8. Down the thread gun owners are being compared to slave owners, so why not?

            “Gun controllers have a motivation to prevent harm. Child rapists, not so much.”

            No, “gun controllers” have a motivation to prevent gun ownership. Prevent harm? Often just a pretext, it’s mostly, so far as I can tell, motivated by a cultural aversion to gun ownership, often just gun ownership by the proles.

          9. Bletch. did I start the slavery thread? Did you read the context around that thread? (Hint: It was about how localized rules, aka federalism, is not suitable for addressing certain issues. Like gun control and slavery.)
            You were the one injecting the notion that gun owners are being compared to slave owners.
            When you insert your biases, it shows your mentality, not mine.

            and whining that ‘he called me Hitler first’ won’t win the argument anyway.

  2. Terrorist gun fanatics like Brett Bellmore are clearly ‘our’ problem and we have to admit that not facing down he and his murderous NRA psycopaths is our own failure.

    Yes, it’s time to impose strict gun laws on the entire country and if the psycopaths start babbling about insurrection and rebellion they need to be put down.

    1. I had the same thought as you, but then wondered if it might be a term meaning the communities that surround Chicago like a collar.

    2. The City of Chicago makes up about 60% of the area of Cook County, and is a part of that county (unlike St. Louis and Kansas City in Missouri which are essentially their own counties as well as cities). Historically the ring of smaller suburbs surrounding the City of Chicago were known as “collar”, although with the growth of exurbs such as Schaumburg and Orland Park this is no longer so descriptive as it once was.


  3. Hey, looky!

    Multiple people have reportedly been shot inside an office complex in Phoenix just hours after former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to deliver a statement on the need for more gun control.

    According to local police, as many as four people were shot inside an office belonging to a mortgage company, and the suspect — described as a white male in his 60s — has fled the scene.

    Details concerning the victims’ condition has not been released.

    The scene remains active, and police have shut down several streets near the area where the shooting took place.

    UPDATE: According to the latest casualty report from officials in Phoenix, the number of people injured in the incident has increased to 5, three of whom sustained life-threatening gunshot wounds.

    Police told Fox 10 News that the shooter entered the office “looking for individuals,” and the attack itself was preceded by “some sort of altercation.”

    Gabrielle Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly was testifying before Congress at the time of the shooting, and briefly mentioned the event, saying, in part, “while we were having this hearing, and we certainly don’t know the details, but in Phoenix, Arizona, there is another what seems to be possibly a shooting with multiple victims.”

    A white male in his 60s? Must be one of those “gangbangers” Brett is always on about.

    Anyone taking odds on whether this dude was a CCW permit holder?

      1. = = = = =

        Man with valid gun permit accidentally shoots his wife. Officials are reviewing the case.
        January 8

        Kansas officials are reviewing the events surrounding a man’s accidental shooting of his wife last week at the Longbranch Steakhouse in Lenexa.

        Police said the two were sitting across from each other in a booth about 8:15 p.m. Jan. 2 when the man reached into his front pants pocket and accidentally discharged a small pistol, striking his wife in the leg just above the knee. She was treated at a hospital and released
        = = = = =

        1. Sure, $10, when you produce the multiple shooting by a CCW permit holder, that I was replying to.

          1. So, if the Arizona shooter above turns out to be a CCW holder, you send $10 to the charity of my choice; if he does not, you send $10 to the charity of my choice?

    1. Friends say a man in his early 20s was picking up one more of their group to go skating, when his GPS took him to the wrong house and the home-owner allegedly shot him dead, later saying he feared a home invasion.

      According to friends of Rodrigo Diaz, they were all going ice skating. Diaz was driving the car, and they were going to pick up one more skater.

      They pulled into a driveway, which their GPS — at least, according to one of the friends — told them was their destination.

      Then, as WSB-TV Atlanta explains, this tale took a troubling turn.

      According to Yeson Jimenez, 15, one of the passengers, Diaz pulled into a driveway; then 69-year-old Phillip Sailors peered out of a window of the house.

      He allegedly came out, went back inside, then emerged again, firing a gun into the air.

      Jimenez says Sailors said nothing to them but “Shut up!”

      Jimenez insists they tried to drive away and that as they did, Sailors fired his .22 gun and shot Diaz fatally in the head.

      1. Most of the bodies were found in the classroom next door, where, Detective Frank recalled, “the teacher had them huddled up like a mother hen — simple as that, in a corner.” Officer Penna, who was the first officer to enter the second room, found a girl standing alone amid the bodies. She appeared to be in shock, and was covered in blood, but had not been injured. He, not knowing the gunman had been found, told her to stay put.

        Horrors of Newtown Shooting Scene Are Slow to Fade – NYTimes.com

  4. The spillover effect makes federalism in gun control in the end untenable, as with slavery. The two stable end states are the NRA’s vision of universal arms, and Japan. I’m betting on the abolitionists. Guns are (mainly) yet another old white guy thing.

    1. “The spillover effect makes federalism in gun control in the end untenable, as with slavery.”

      Quite true, although you’ve flipped who’s today’s analogy to the slave owner. The slave owners found freedom anywhere in the US a problem, the gun controllers the same.

      Amusingly, recent polls actually show support for gun control increases as you get older. Actually, it’s gun control that’s an old white guy thing, which I guess makes sense when you consider that American gun control originated with the KKK.

      1. ___

        Music surrounded Benjamin Wheeler as he grew up in a household where both his mother and father were performers.

        They left behind stage careers in New York City when they moved to Newtown with Benjamin and his older brother Nate.

        “We knew we wanted a piece of lawn, somewhere quiet, somewhere with good schools,” Francine Wheeler told the Newtown Bee in a profile.

        She is a music educator and singer-songwriter. Sometimes the musical mother would try out tunes on her own children, with some tunes that she made up for Ben as a baby eventually finding their way onto a CD, she told the newspaper.

        In writing songs for children, melodies needn’t be simplified, she said. “I try to make it my mission to always present good music to kids.”

        Benjamin’s father, David, a former film and television actor, writes and performs still, according to a profile on the website of the Flagpole Radio Cafe theater, with which he’s performed in Newtown.

        The family are members of Trinity Episcopal Church, whose website noted that Nate, also a student at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was not harmed in Friday’s shooting.
        via the Huffington Post

        1. Home invasion suspect arrested after woman opens fire

          “MAGNOLIA, Texas – A home invasion suspect was arrested at a hospital after a mother shot him during the crime at a Montgomery County home, deputies said Wednesday.

          Erin, who asked to be identified only by her first name, told Local 2 she was putting her 6-year-old son to bed when she heard a loud noise coming from her bedroom on Mink Lake Drive Friday night.

          “I threw the cover over my son and I took off running, screaming to the living room to let my dogs out,” she said.

          Erin said she turned around and saw three masked men, pointing a gun right at her.

          “When I saw three of them, I knew I was in a lot of trouble. I said, ‘The TV is the most expensive thing I own. You could take that through the front door and go with it,’ and they said, ‘No, the money, the money,'” said Erin.

          Erin said she had to think fast as the men headed towards her son’s room. The mom said she distracted the men as she rushed to get her gun.

          “Somehow the way it happened, as they were going down the hallway, I told them sometimes I keep money under the mattress, which is not true. But I needed to get to where my gun was,” she said.

          The men followed her to her bedroom.

          “I was pretending to move the mattress. It’s really heavy, so I was trying to move their attention to the mattress because they wouldn’t take their eyes off of me. I needed a split second for them to take their eyes off of me. I said, ‘It might be under here.’ They started talking to each other in Spanish and then a roll of duct tape came out,” said Erin.

          At this point, Erin said she prayed for something to distract them so she could grab her gun. She said her prayers were answered when her dogs ran in and started barking.

          “They all turned around and looked. I grabbed my gun, cocked it, I turned and shot him right in the stomach,” said Erin.

          Two of the men escaped. Erin said she pointed a gun at a third suspect, but he went after her before she could shoot.”

          Do we really have to play dueling anecdotes? ‘Cause I can pull up a lot of them if you want.

      2. “The slave owners found freedom anywhere in the US a problem, the gun controllers the same.”

        There are pretty strong parallels between the pro-revenues-for-gun-manufacturers crowd and the pro-slavers: the attack on public health research into guns is reminiscent of the slavers attacks on freedom of speech.

        1. Oh, that smear again. That the 4 million plus member NRA is some kind of front for one of the smaller industries in the nation. Hardly even worth replying to.

Comments are closed.