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CPD: Gun seizures don't equal arrests

By Frank Main, Chicago Sun Times

The Chicago Police Department seized more than 13,000 guns last year, but only a handful of people were arrested for violating the city's handgun ban, records show.

Chicago Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said 74 people were arrested in 2007 and 83 people in 2006 for failing to register their handguns, an ordinance violation.

Thousands of people were arrested on more serious charges of unlawful use of a weapon -- a state offense that is not jeopardized by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Thursday to overturn Washington D.C.'s handgun ban.

City officials don't want to lose Chicago's handgun ban, saying it gives them another tool to fight gun crime. Veteran Chicago Police officers said the numbers show the ban is largely symbolic.

"Criminals will continue to carry guns, and law-abiding citizens will continue to keep them in their homes for self-defense," one commander said.

So what kinds of guns are the crooks carrying?

Most of the guns submitted for ownership traces in criminal investigations in Chicago last year were revolvers. The .38-caliber revolver was No. 1, with 1,941 submitted, followed by 1,242 9mm semiautomatic handguns and 962 .22-caliber revolvers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The .38 and 9mm handguns are more powerful; revolvers typically are cheaper on the street because they have a smaller bullet capacity, experts say.

ATF records show 4,446 revolvers, 4,277 semiautomatic pistols and 1,325 rifles -- including more than 160 with calibers associated with assault and sniper rifles -- were submitted for traces in Chicago last year.

The guns included those recovered as evidence in violent crimes, guns seized from people charged with illegal gun possession and guns found in searches.

Of the guns submitted for traces in homicides, 71 were semiautomatic pistols, 55 were revolvers and five were rifles. Of the guns submitted for traces in assaults, 79 were semiautomatic pistols, 55 were revolvers and 13 were rifles, records show.

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