Ten Chicago Stores Sold 1/4 of Guns Found at Crime Scenes

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A sweeping gun trace report in Chicago showed nearly one quarter of guns recovered at crime scenes over a four-year period came from just 10 area businesses, the Chicago Tribune reports. Suburban Sporting Goods made a startling leap into the top 10 list, said the report, a collaboration among the mayor’s office, Chicago Police Department and University of Chicago Crime Lab. The number of crime guns traced back to the shop jumped 300 percent in that time period, with weapons turning up at many crime scenes. The store leads all other Chicago-area gun dealers in the “time to crime” statistic, a key metric in determining which stores are likely selling to straw purchasers or other illegal buyers.

Nearly half of the guns traced back to Suburban Sporting Goods were found at crime scenes within a year of their retail sale. More than two-thirds were found at crime scenes within a three-year window. Owner Donald Beltrame and his son, Jim, defended their record, saying they’ve been trying as hard as they can to keep guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens as sales have exploded in recent years. “With business increasing, you’re going to have an increase in everything, which is unfortunate,” said Jim Beltrame. “We’ve probably had a 1,000 percent increase in sales, so (the 300 percent spike in crime guns found) is relatively low.” The report covers 2013 through 2016 and used firearms trace data to track “crime guns” — weapons that were found at shooting scenes, in possession of gang members or otherwise being used illegally. Of the 15,000 guns that could be traced back to a point of purchase, about 40 percent had been sold at licensed guns stores in the Chicago area, from the Wisconsin border to northwest Indiana, making those stores the “primary source of illegal guns seized in Chicago,” the report said.

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