Gun Laws Blamed For Chicago's Holiday Weekend Shooting Surge

After a violent holiday weekend during which 11 people were killed and more than 60 others were wounded in shootings -- two of the deaths and five of the woundings at the hands of police officers -- Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Monday that the city's gun sentencing laws aren't strict enough to help police stem city violence.

"It all comes down to these guns: there's too many guns coming in and too little punishment going out," McCarthy said in a Monday press conference.

In a news release, McCarthy noted police have seized over 3,300 illegal firearms so far this year, but said many gun offenders quickly return to the street because sentences for those caught carrying illegally are too lax.

"Our efforts will continue unabated until all Chicagoans gain the same sense of security, but better laws are needed to reduce the proliferation of illegal guns in our communities," Chicago's top cop continued.

While some have suggested that the city's police have been overextended due to understaffing and working overtime in high-crime areas, McCarthy maintained that illegal firearms remained the root of the problem. Sunday alone, the city recorded 21 shooting incidents, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

"Yesterday is the day that really blew it up for us," McCarthy said Monday, according to the Sun-Times.

In a separate statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the weekend violence was "simply unacceptable, and points out that we still have work to do."

"This violence is unacceptable wherever it occurs in our city and all of us need to take a stand," Emanuel continued. "The only way we will meet this challenge to our future is to join with one another and create a partnership for peace.”

While Chicago reported a lower homicide total for the first six months of the year than the same period in 2013, its total number of shooting incidents is up 5 percent compared to last year -- and the number of shooting victims has surged 8 percent.

Last month, the Chicago City Council unanimously approved Emanuel's plan for strict gun shop restrictions in the city, requiring that all purchases be videotaped and that sales be limited to only one gun per month per buyer.

The plan is an attempt to reduce the number of "straw" purchases, during which a gun is legally purchased but transferred to individuals not legally allowed to own. Still, the plan is not likely to have a large impact because the mayor himself has admitted that over three quarters of the firearms recovered from crime scenes in Chicago were purchased outside of the city's immediate vicinity, while four shops just outside city limits account for about 20 percent of recovered guns.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to reflect that Emanuel was likely factoring gun stores located just outside the city among those selling guns purchased near Chicago, compared to those purchased from other states and outside the immediate Chicago metropolitan area.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

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