Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has long insisted that the city's restrictive gun laws – including the handgun ban that was essentially ified recently by the U.S. Supreme Court – have been a key crime-fighting tool. But court records show that relatively few people were convicted of violating the laws, and even top city officials have questioned how useful they are in deterring crime, reports the New York Times. Since 1982, when the city tightened its gun ordinances to include the handgun ban, there have been just 2,201 convictions under the laws, according to data from the office of the Cook County Circuit Court clerk. That works out to an average of about 79 convictions a year.
Jody Weis, the police superintendent, has said that the police have little reason to try to prosecute under the city laws because state and federal gun regulations carry much more serious penalties. The city ordinance carries a maximum sentence of three months in prison for first-time offenders, compared with three years for violation of commonly used state gun-possession statutes and five years under federal laws. The flow of firearms into the city continues to frustrate law-enforcement officials, despite the Daley administration's defense of the firearms ban that was effectively overturned by the court in June, just when Chicago was in the midst of a number of highly publicized shootings.