August 2015

Alderman’s Corner

Keeping Our Community Safe

Dear Residents,

Like much of the rest of the City, the communities of the 11th Ward have been impacted by a rash of gun violence this summer. My office has worked hard to support the families and neighbors of the victims. I want to thank all of our community activists and CAPS volunteers for their commitment and dedication. My Office has also worked closely with the police commanders and our local beat officers to make sure the perpetrators are tracked down and that illegal weapons are taken out of the hands of criminals.

The challenges of gun violence we face as a city are immense. This year alone, the Chicago Police have confiscated 3,470 guns. Until our state and federal legislators pass common-sense public safety laws, it will continue to be a struggle to reduce gun violence and save lives here at the local level.

I have advocated for measures to close the “private sale loophole” that allows unlicensed gun sellers to sell thousands of guns without completing background checks on the purchasers every year. Often, that’s how dangerous criminals are able to buy firearms. We must also hold people accountable if they lose their gun or ensure they report the gun was stolen. This is yet another way guns are illegally transferred.

According to the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV), 40 percent of gun sales happen through unlicensed sellers and private deals that require no background checks.

This shouldn’t be happening–but as of right now, it’s totally legal.

Nearly 20 percent of all guns recovered from crime scenes in Chicago between 2009 and 2013 were sold by just four of the state’s gun dealers: three in Cook County, including Chuck’s in Riverdale, Midwest Sporting Goods in Lyons, Shore Galleries in Lincolnwood and Westforth Sports in Gary, IN, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab.

If the state were to require that gun dealers like these use more responsible business practices, we might have prevented some of the senseless violence our community has experienced in recent months.

There’s more we can do. It’s clear that we need harsher punishment for illegal gun sales and possession to deter these shootings. As a city, we can do more to address the root causes of gun and gang violence.

We know that young people often turn to gang life when they lack access to good education and job opportunities, and programs to keep them off the street. That’s why I’m working to make sure families in our neighborhoods can turn to programs and resources like the Park District programs, the Valentine Boys and Girls Club and other programs to avoid heading down the wrong path.

The most important thing to preventing gun violence is a strong, engaged and active community. That’s where we need everyone’s help. To keep our streets safe and vibrant, we’ll need to work together. Please report crime, when you see it happening. Become active in CAPS. Report suspicious activity on your block. Working together, we will rid our community of the violence and criminal activity.

If you have an issue that needs to be addressed, please feel free to visit my website at Ward11.org, send me an email at office@ward11.org, call my office at 773-254- 6677, or stop in at 3659 South Halsted Street. We look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Patrick D. Thompson

11th Ward Alderman