<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Political News and Chicago Politics]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago https://www.nbcchicago.comen-usFri, 24 Nov 2017 16:30:24 -0600Fri, 24 Nov 2017 16:30:24 -0600NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Mike Flynn Business Partner Now Subject of Mueller Probe]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:40:38 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Flynn-phone.jpg

A former business associate of Michael Flynn has become a subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation for his role in the failure of Flynn's former lobbying firm to disclose its work on behalf of foreign governments, three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

Federal investigators are zeroing in on Bijan Kian, a partner at the now-dissolved Flynn Intel Group, and have questioned multiple witnesses in recent weeks about his lobbying work on behalf of Turkey. The grand jury convened for the investigation will soon have a chance to question some of those witnesses, the sources say. 

Mueller recently indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates simultaneously. Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty. Both Flynn's and Manafort's lobbying firms have come under investigation for failing to disclose lobbying work on behalf of foreign governments.



Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Signs Pop Up as McCarthy Mulls Mayoral Run]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 17:57:51 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/IMG_29881.jpg

The Chicago mayoral race is still over a year away, but momentum keeps building for a potential run by the city’s former police superintendent.

An exploratory committee for former Superintendent Garry McCarthy was formed by a supporter earlier this year, and now there are yard signs popping up on the city’s South Side.

West Beverly homeowner Jerome Hope created the signs, and posted three of them in his front yard.

“(McCarthy) is a straight talker, law and order type and I was just impressed with him as superintendent,” Hope said. “He’d do a good job as mayor.”

Hope cited recent tax increases and an increase in violence as reasons that he would support a McCarthy mayoral run.

 McCarthy has yet to determine whether he’s serious about a run, but he has told NBC 5 that he is “warming up to the idea” of potentially trying to unseat two-term Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the 2019 election.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Roy Moore's Communications Director Resigns]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 15:55:07 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_moore161122_1920x1080.jpg

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore's communications director, John Rogers, has resigned, as Moore continues to deny any sexual misconduct against underage girls.

In a new interview, Moore again denied the allegations against him, and now it appears he has the president's backing.

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<![CDATA[Net Neutrality: What It Is and Why It Matters]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 15:18:03 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/SAMPLE+TIMELINE.00_00_16_23.Still003.jpg

The FCC is set to dismantle rules requiring internet service providers to ensure consumers have equal access to all online content.

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<![CDATA[Philly Mayor Calls Trump 'Bully' and 'Punk,' Questions Upbringing]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:39:24 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Kenney1.JPG

Si quieres leer esta historia en español haz clic aquí.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney unleashed an insult-laden tirade against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, denouncing the Trump administration's decision to end protections for Haitians and other immigrants living in the United States.

"There is no compassion whatsoever in the White House. I'm just beside myself with sadness because our president is a bully, our president is a punk, and he just doesn't get it."

"I don't know where he was raised, but his family didn't do a good job raising that guy," Kenney said. (You can watch a portion of Kenney's comments on Trump above or the full set below.)

Kenney made the remarks after calling on the Trump Administration to reverse recent decisions to end Temporary Protective Status for Haitians, Sudanese, and Nicaraguans. Hondurans are still awaiting a decision on their status.

Often abbreviated as TPS, the program was created in 1990 and currently allows for 435,000 people from nine countries affected by natural disasters or war to live and work in the United States.

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On Monday, nearly 60,000 Haitians were notified they must leave the U.S. by July 2019. All moved to the U.S. to escape devastation left behind by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in 2010. Seven years later, the Carribean nation is still struggling to rebuild, but the Department of Homeland Security said conditions have improved enough to send people back.

"Could you imagine if they ended TPS for the Irish when we came here in the 1840s? Sent us all back to starve in our home country?" Kenney, an Irish-American, said while flanked by Haitians and immigration advocates.

Kenney said the decisions are "simply un-American." He said deporting these immigrants will be a detrement to the local economy. The mayor also questioned what would happen to TPS immigrant children, who were born in the U.S. and thus are citizens.

"This country used to be a country of compassion and empathy and it is now a country of anger and divisiveness and Donald Trump is the reason why we've gotten where we are," Kenney said adding that Trump should "get out" of the U.S.

NBC10 has reached out to the White House for comment.

You can watch Kenney's full comments below:

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Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Secret Conyers Settlement Raises New Questions in Congress]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 11:33:24 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/130535025-John-Conyers-Congress.jpg

The spotlight was already on a lack of accountability in how Congress handles sexual harassment claims when a newly reported accusation against Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., raised more questions Tuesday, NBC News reported.

The settlement reached between Conyers and a former staffer from his office came outside the scope of Capitol Hill's official reporting mechanism, using taxpayer dollars from the congressman's discretionary fund. It's now under a House Ethics Committee investigation.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., has been pushing to reform the Office of Compliance's harassment reporting system and said Conyers' way of reporting provides even less oversight.

Speier and other members of Congress have introduced a bill, the Me Too Congress Act, which would give victims more rights through the process. But it wouldn't apply to cases like Conyers'.




Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump on Ala. Senate Race: ‘We Don’t Need a Liberal’]]> Tue, 21 Nov 2017 15:14:07 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_TRUMP_DEPARTS_112117-151129768438000002.jpg

As President Donald Trump departed the White House Tuesday, he stopped to speak with reporters about the ongoing Roy Moore controversy.

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<![CDATA[Why Alabama Young Republicans Are Deserting Roy Moore]]> Tue, 21 Nov 2017 10:26:16 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/875055874-Roy-Moore-Alabama-Senate.jpg

The Young Republican Federation of Alabama voted this weekend to suspend support of Roy Moore, the party's nominee for U.S. Senate in next month's special election, NBC News reported.

The recent allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore set many young conservatives against him and the state party, which is standing by its candidate. Jackie Curtiss, 27, the chair of the federation, said she'd likely skip voting rather than back Democrat Doug Jones, and that the scandal has split the state party along generational lines.

"I've never felt the inner turmoil I feel over this," Curtiss said. "At some point, decency comes before politics."

The group won't restore its support for Moore unless he can discredit allegations of improper relationships with teenage girls and young women when he was in his 30s, decades ago.



Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Laws Stymie Efforts to Trace Guns Used in Crimes ]]> Tue, 21 Nov 2017 06:36:59 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/handguns.jpg

How easily a stolen gun can be matched to one used in a crime depends on laws that can either speed or impede the trace.

Making the job easier: mandatory reporting of lost or stolen guns and background checks, measures opposed by the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups but favored by gun control organizations. But these regulations are limited because although federal laws govern licensed gun dealers, they do not apply to private individuals and the majority of states have not extended their laws to close the gap.

Making it more difficult: the federal Tiahrt Amendments and the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, which impede the dissemination of records to researchers or others outside of law enforcement or forbid the creation of a registry of guns, gun owners or gun sales.

William Rosen, the deputy legal director of Everytown for Gun Safety, accused the gun lobby of stoking fears that the government would use a registry for a mass seizure of guns.

"Despite the fact that that’s quite a paranoid belief and it’s unclear how something like would ever even possibly unfold," Rosen said. "So clearly not a realistic fear, but it has been something that the gun lobby has used very successfully to basically oppose any measures no matter how seemingly reasonable to reduce gun violence."

Michael Hammond, the legal counsel for Gun Owners of America, said such fears are warranted. He pointed to comments that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made when the state was considering new restrictions on assault weapons after the rampage at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot 20 kids, ages 6 and 7, to death and six of the school's staff.

"Confiscation could be an option," Cuomo said in an interview on an Albany, New York, radio station in 2012. "Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option — keep your gun but permit it."

In the end, New Yorkers were allowed to keep assault weapons they possessed legally on Jan. 15, 2013, but had to register them by Jan. 15, 2014. And the courts upheld the constitutionality of the law.

To try to determine where stolen guns end up, more than a dozen NBC stations across the country teamed up with the nonprofit journalism organization The Trace. To get around legal prohibitions against sharing national data with the public, The Trace and NBC obtained records from more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies in 36 states and Washington, D.C., and identified more 23,000 stolen guns recovered by police between 2010 and 2016, most connected with crimes. Those included more than 1,500 violent crimes such as murders, sexual assaults, armed robberies and kidnappings.

One gun stolen in 2010 was used two years later to kill Rory Park-Pettiford, a 22-year-old Campbell, California, man, who was shot to death during an attempted carjacking.

His brother, Dylan, a writer and director and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, said of the killing: "Rory's death caught me more off guard than any road side bomb in Iraq ever could. You just don’t expect for something like that to happen, especially in a place where we grew up."

During the trial, he recalled, he watched security footage showing a man walk up to his brother's car and shoot him through the driver’s side window.

"And I watched my brother take his last breath," Dylan Park-Pettiford told NBC. "That’s something that replays in my mind all the time."

Tightening of federal laws has occurred infrequently. In the last 50 years, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited some sales and set new licensing and record-keeping requirements for dealers. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 mandated background checks and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 banned the manufacture of new semi-automatic assault weapons for 10 years and large-capacity ammunition magazines. The assault weapon ban was allowed to lapse in 2004.

Some states have toughened their local laws, but those remain a minority and the upshot is hurdles for law enforcement, researchers and others investigating gun violence in the country.

Mandatory reporting laws hold people accountable, and can be effective in reducing gun trafficking, gun control advocates say. Reporting requirements allow law enforcement to see if there is a pattern of thefts in a particular neighborhood and and try to determine what happened to the guns before they are used in a crime, Rosen of Everytown said.

"But another benefit of those laws is they take away an excuse from someone who is straw-purchasing guns, who is diverting guns from the legal market to the illegal market," he said.

A straw purchase involves a buyer purchasing a gun for someone else who cannot pass a background check and is legally barred from owning a weapon.

Without mandatory reporting requirements, police officers and others can quickly run into road blocks, advocates say.

"If there is no reporting requirement, they have no leverage to say, 'This is your gun and it was used in a crime and you have to explain it,'" said Lindsay Nichols, the federal policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "And if there is no reporting requirement, the person says, 'No I don’t have to explain.' That is a very important requirement."

Federally licensed firearms dealers must report the loss or theft of weapons from their inventory. The vast majority of states impose no local requirements, though nine state and the District of Columbia do also make individuals report lost or stolen firearms: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island, according to the Giffords Law Center. In Maryland, owners must report the theft of handguns and assault weapons but not other firearms. In Michigan, individuals have to notify law enforcement about thefts but not losses.

The NRA told NBC that it opposes mandatory reporting of lost and stolen guns. Such laws do not prevent crimes from being committed, it said. The National Shooting Sports Foundation says the focus should be on criminals, not on penalizing gun owners who fail to report thefts.

Hammond also said the requirement was an unreasonable imposition on anyone with a large inventory of guns.

"If you're a huge gun dealer, basically having an affirmative obligation to survey your inventory and know what guns you have on any given day at the expense of going to prison is something which is a pretty much a trap," he said.

Background checks can not only keep guns out of the hands of people who are prohibited from owning them but they create a record of who owns a gun.

Federally licensed firearms dealers must perform background checks, keep records of all gun sales and report some multiple sales. But none of the requirements apply to private or unlicensed sellers.

Again most states have not extended checks to apply to individuals although 19 states have imposed obligations on at least some private sales, according to the Giffords Law Center. Nine states, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington plus the District of Columbia require background checks for all sales, including those from unlicensed sellers. Maryland and Pennsylvania do so for handgun purchasers only.

In addition, four states, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey, require all purchasers to get a permit after a background check. Another four, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina, apply the requirement to only handgun purchasers.

"In a state that doesn’t require background checks on all gun sales, the trail may go cold (after the first purchase) even though that gun may have been bought and sold any number of times after that initial purchase," Rosen said.

Without the checks, even law enforcement officials can be stymied in trying to trace a gun's path, gun control advocates say.

"So those two laws could work powerfully in tandem, background checks and lost and stolen reporting, to again to make sure we understand the chain of custody," Rosen said.

The NRA says it opposes expanded background checks because they do not stop criminals from getting firearms, and because it opposes firearm registration.

Meanwhile, other laws add to the difficulty of matching guns and crimes, gun control advocates say.

The Tiahrt Amendments, named for former U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a Republican from Kansas, prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from releasing data on gun traces for use by cities or states, researchers, those involved in lawsuits or other members of the public.

They require the FBI to destroy all approved gun purchaser records within 24 hours and prohibit the ATF from requiring gun dealers to submit their inventories.

The amendments have been attached to the Department of Justice's appropriations bills since 2003, according to the Giffords Law Center. The restrictions were loosened in 2008 and 2010 to allow more sharing of data with law enforcement agencies.

The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 prevents the federal government from maintaining a central database of firearms dealer records, the Giffords Law Center notes.

"ATF for example is barred from spending any money to digitalize records from out-of-business gun stores," said Avery Gardiner, the co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

When the ATF traces a gun sale, it begins by calling or emailing the gun store because there is no database to search. When a dealer goes out of business, those records are shipped to the ATF, which transfers them to non-searchable PDFs.

"It's incredibly inefficient but they've been basically instructed to use taxpayer dollars badly and inefficiently and slow down police efforts to solve crimes because of the concern that somehow a national registry of gun owners would lead to the government coming to confiscate everybody's weapons," Gardiner said.

—Stephen Stock contributed to this story



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File
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<![CDATA[Mazeski Gets Endorsement From EMILY's List]]> Tue, 21 Nov 2017 05:44:16 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kelly+mazeski.jpg

With 10 candidates vying in the Democratic primary to face Congressman Peter Roskam, EMILY's List is endorsing Kelly Mazeski.

EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock said Mazeski's "experience and perspective is exactly the change that Chicagoland families deserve in Congress -- and EMILY's List is proud to stand with her."

EMILY's List is the nation's largest resource for women in politics. The endorsement means, EMILY's List will introduce Mazeski to other EMILY's List social media followers and mailing lists, a critical fundraising boost. As well, they will serve as advisors in her campaign.

"I am deeply honored to have received the endorsement of EMILY's List," Mazeski told NBC 5. "Their support will help me beat Peter Roskam next November. Roskam has turned his back on the constituents of the Illinois 6th Congressional District."

The 57-year-old is a cancer survivor who has run for the state senate and is a member of the Barrington Hiills Plan Commission.

Other Democrats gathering petitions for the March 20 primary are: Grace Haaf, Jennifer Zordani, Becky Anderson Wilkins, Sean Carsten, Carole Cheney, Amanda Howland, Suzy Price, Austin Songer, and Ryan Huffman.



Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Fed Chair Janet Yellen to Step Down]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 20:05:14 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_17324706612780.jpg

Janet Yellen announced Monday that she will step down from the Federal Reserve board of governors once her successor is sworn in next year. Yellen's term as chairperson ends Feb. 3 — but she could have stayed on the board until 2024.

The move leaves a total of four spots open on the seven-member board, paving the way for President Donald Trump to significantly reshape the nation's monetary policymaking, NBC News reported.

Trump already tapped current Fed governor Jerome "Jay" Powell this month to serve as the next Fed chair, pending Senate confirmation, and appointed former Wall Streeter Randy Quarles to fill an open position as governor and vice chair for regulation.

"I am gratified that the financial system is much stronger than a decade ago," wrote Yellen in her resignation letter to Trump. "I am also gratified by the substantial improvement in the economy since the crisis."



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Was a 'Factor' in Decision to Retire, Says GOP Rep.]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 20:06:49 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/troAP_17324678770142.jpg

Republican Rep. Dave Trott told CNBC on Monday that President Donald Trump was a "factor" in his decision to retire from the House at the end of his second term.

"We have different styles and I sometimes don't understand some of the things he does and says," said Trott, who represents Michigan's 11th congressional district.

"It's a very partisan environment and I think that problem has been exacerbated under President Trump," he said on "Power Lunch."

Trott is one of more than two dozen Republican House members not seeking re-election in 2018.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Donald Trump Is Shutting Down His Charitable Foundation]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 18:07:01 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/donaldtrumpatcabinetmeetingfeuerherd.jpg

President Donald Trump's charitable foundation, which last year admitted violating federal rules on "self-dealing," is in the process of dissolving, according to newly filed documents reviewed by NBC News.

The move fulfills a promise Trump made last December, when he said he would wind down the Donald J. Trump Foundation to avoid conflicts of interest. New York's attorney general ordered the foundation to stop soliciting contributions in October 2016.

"The foundation announced its intent to dissolve and is seeking approval to distribute its remaining funds" to other charities, according to its 2016 Internal Revenue Service filing, filed this month and uploaded to the website of charity watchdog Guidestar.org by the foundation.

At the end of 2016, the foundation had assets of about $970,000, the document shows.



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[WH: US Increases Pressure on North Korea With Designation]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:56:36 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_NK_TILLERSON_REAX_112017-151121369698300002.jpg

During a White House press briefing Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism is part of a plan to increase pressure on the country.

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<![CDATA[Trump Designates North Korea a State Sponsor of Terror]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:28:53 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+NK+STATE+SPONSOR+THUMB.jpg

President Donald Trump designated North Korea a state sponsor of terror during a cabinet meeting Monday. Citing repeated nuclear threats, support of international terror and Kim Jong Un's suspected involvement in the assassination of his half brother as reasons for the designation, Trump also said on Tuesday the Treasury Department will announce new, larger sanctions on North Korea.

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<![CDATA[Hastert Scores Victory in One of Two Abuse-Related Lawsuits]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 19:36:57 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Hastert+Update.png

Disgraced former House Speaker Dennis Hastert scored a victory in Kendall County Circuit Court Monday, as a judge threw out a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed Hastert sexually abused him when he was a child, in approximately 1973 or 74.

The case was one of two Hastert has faced since leaving prison last summer. He is still named in a civil suit brought by his original accuser, “James Doe,” who is demanding the balance of $3.5 million he says Hastert promised him to guarantee his silence. It was that accuser who revealed Hastert’s secret past, leading to the once-powerful House Speaker’s political downfall. 

In the case dismissed Monday, an accuser identified in court documents only as “Richard Doe,” claimed Hastert molested him at Kendall County’s old Game Farm when Doe was nine or ten years old. But Judge Robert Pilmer ruled Monday that the statute of limitations had long since expired on any such allegation. 

“This individual Richard Doe, when he turned 18, was not aware of his claims at the time,” Doe’s attorney Kristi Browne said after court. “Shortly after he turned 18, within that first two years, he approached the prosecutor in Kendall County, Mr. Ingemunson, tried to report the claim or crime, and Mr. Ingemunson made misrepresentations to him which discouraged him from filing that claim.” 

Browne said that Ingemunson told Doe that if he filed a complaint, he would be prosecuted or sued. Ingemunson has previously told NBC 5 he has no recollection of any such conversation. 

“I’ve never met him,” Ingemunson said. “He’s never been in my office.” 

The former State’s Attorney said he had confirmed that a former assistant in the office, Jean Fletcher, did recall meeting the man, but “I never knew what it was.” 

Browne says she is weighing all options for her client, including an appeal or a motion for the judge to reconsider his ruling. That matter is set for Feb. 23.

“We have named the Yorkville school district, not as a defendant, but as a respondent for discovery purposes, and we believe we should be allowed to go forward with that discovery to investigate the possibility of bringing additional claims against additional defendants,” Browne said in a statement. “Illinois has joined 36 other states and the federal government in eliminating the statute of limitations for claims of childhood sexual abuse, which will allow much greater latitude for victims of such abuse to come forward, a process that can take years and even decades to be able to discuss and appreciate what happened.” 

“That change, however, only applies to claims that were not already barred by prior law at the time this change was made effective, January 1, 2014,” she added “It was an important and necessary change that unfortunately came too late for victims like Richard Doe.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gun Theft From Legal Owners Is on the Rise, Fueling Violence]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 12:45:29 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/missingpieces-poster.jpg

Hundreds of thousands of firearms stolen from the homes and vehicles of legal owners are flowing each year into underground markets, and the numbers are rising. Those weapons often end up in the hands of people prohibited from possessing guns. Many are later used to injure and kill.

A yearlong investigation by The Trace and more than a dozen NBC TV stations identified more than 23,000 stolen firearms recovered by police between 2010 and 2016 — the vast majority connected with crimes. That tally, based on an analysis of police records from hundreds of jurisdictions, includes more than 1,500 carjackings and kidnappings, armed robberies at stores and banks, sexual assaults and murders, and other violent acts committed in cities from coast to coast.

"The impact of gun theft is quite clear," said Frank Occhipinti, deputy chief of the firearms operations division for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "It is devastating our communities."

Thefts from gun stores have commanded much of the media and legislative attention in recent years, spurred by stories about burglars ramming cars through storefronts and carting away duffel bags full of rifles and handguns. But the great majority of guns stolen each year in the United States are taken from everyday owners.

Thieves stole guns from people’s closets and off their coffee tables, police records show. They crawled into unlocked cars and lifted them off seats and out of center consoles. They snatched some right out of the hands of their owners.

In Pensacola, Florida, a group of teenagers breaking into unlocked cars at an apartment complex stole a .22-caliber Ruger handgun from the glovebox of a Ford Fusion, then played a video game to determine who got to keep it. One month later, the winner, an 18-year-old man with an outstanding warrant for his arrest, fatally shot a 75-year-old woman in the back of the head who had paid him to do odd jobs around her house. She had accused the gunman of stealing her credit cards.

In Gilbert, Arizona, a couple left four shotguns out in their bedroom and two handguns stuffed in their dresser drawers even though they had a large gun safe in the garage. They returned home to find their sliding backdoor pried open and all six of the weapons missing. Police recovered one of the shotguns eight months later on the floor of a getaway car occupied by three robbers who held up a gas station and led officers on a harrowing chase in the nearby city of Chandler.

In Atlanta, a thief broke through a front window of a house and stole an AK-47-style rifle from underneath a mattress. The following year, a convicted felon used the weapon to unleash a hail of bullets on a car as it was leaving a Chevron gas station, sending two men to the hospital. Two months later, the felon used the rifle to fatally shoot his girlfriend’s 29-year-old neighbor. A 7-year-old girl who witnessed the killing told police the crack of the gunfire hurt her ears. She ran home crying to her mother.

After the Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs mass shootings, attention fell on exotic gun accessories and gaps in record keeping. Last week, a new measure intended to shore up the federal background check system was introduced by eight U.S. senators. But many criminals are armed with perfectly lethal weapons funneled into an underground market where background checks would never apply.

In most cases reviewed in detail by the Trace and NBC, the person caught with the weapon was a felon, a juvenile, or was otherwise prohibited under federal or state laws from possessing firearms.

More than 237,000 guns were reported stolen in the United States in 2016, according to previously unreported numbers supplied by the National Crime Information Center, a database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that helps law enforcement track stolen property. That represents a 68 percent increase from 2005. (When asked if the increase could be partially attributed to a growing number of law enforcement agencies reporting stolen guns, an NCIC spokesperson said only that "participation varies.").

All told, NCIC records show that nearly two million weapons have been reported stolen over the last decade.

The government’s tally, however, likely represents a significant undercount. A report by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning public policy group, found that a significant percentage of gun thefts are never reported to police. In addition, many gun owners who report thefts do not know the serial numbers on their firearms, data required to input weapons into the NCIC. Studies based on surveys of gun owners estimate that the actual number of firearms stolen each year surpasses 350,000, or more than 3.5 million over a 10-year period.

"There are more guns stolen every year than there are violent crimes committed with firearms," said Larry Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade group that represents firearms manufacturers. "Gun owners should be aware of the issue."

On a local level, gun theft is a public safety threat that police chiefs and sheriffs are struggling to contain. The Trace requested statistics on stolen weapons from the nation’s largest police departments in an effort to understand ground-level trends. Of the 80 police departments that provided at least five years of data, 61 percent recorded per-capita increases in 2015 compared to 2010.

The rate of gun thefts more than doubled in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Madison, Wisconsin; and Pasadena, California, our analysis found.

More than two-thirds of cities experienced growth in the raw number of stolen-gun reports, not accounting for population change.

There were 843 firearms reported stolen in St. Louis in 2015 — a 27 percent increase in reports over 2010.

"We have a society that has become so gun-centric that the guns people buy for themselves get stolen, go into circulation, and make them less safe," said Sam Dotson, a former St. Louis police chief.

Identifying the precise nexus between stolen firearms and other forms of crime is a question that has flummoxed researchers and journalists for years, in part because of strict legal limits on the public’s access to national data. The ATF is barred under a rider to a Department of Justice appropriations bill from sharing detailed crime gun data, which could include information about whether a weapon was stolen, with anyone outside of law enforcement.

The Trace and NBC sidestepped federal restrictions, in part, by obtaining more than 800,000 records of both stolen and recovered firearms directly from more than 1,000 local and state law enforcement agencies in 36 states. Matching the serial numbers of guns contained in the two sets of records enabled our reporters to identify crimes involving a weapon that had been reported stolen.

The trend is unambiguous: Gun theft is on the rise in many American cities, and many of those stolen weapons are later used to injure and kill people.

A research paper published this year, using responses from the Harvard and Northeastern survey, estimated that three million Americans carry loaded handguns in public every day. About nine million people carried a handgun at some point during the month before the survey was conducted, researchers found. Six percent of respondents who said they carried a gun had been threatened with a firearm in the previous five years.

In the past two decades, dozens of states have passed legislation easing restrictions against carrying in public. Some, like Georgia, have made it possible to legally carry a concealed weapon in restaurants and churches. At least a dozen, including Missouri, Arizona, and West Virginia, have done away with all training or licensing requirements, meaning anyone legally allowed to own a gun can carry it concealed in public.

People who owned guns for protection or carried a gun in the previous month were more than three times as likely to have experienced a theft in the previous five years, according to a study published this year that was based on the Harvard and Northeastern survey results. People who owned six or more guns and stored their guns loaded or unlocked — or kept guns in their vehicles — were more than twice as likely to have had their firearms stolen.

In Texas, gun owners have reported thousands of thefts. Austin alone tallied more than 4,600 reports of lost or stolen guns between 2010 and 2015, more than 1,600 of which were swiped from cars, The Trace and NBC found. Over that same period in Austin, lost and stolen guns were recovered in connection to at least 600 criminal offenses, including more than 60 robberies, assaults, and murders.

Many gun-rights advocates, including Jerry Patterson, a former Texas state senator, believe that owners have a responsibility to guard their weapons from theft.

"You’re negligent if you don’t exercise good judgment," he said. "There’s too many guns in the hands of dumbasses that don’t know how to use it, don’t know how to store it."

In Houston about a decade ago, someone broke into Patterson’s truck, making off with a Smith & Wesson .357 revolver. "Now I don’t leave handguns in the car," he said.

Instead, Patterson now keeps a shotgun under the back seat.

"It’s harder to steal a long gun discreetly," he said.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police recently tasked a team of top of law enforcement officials to develop a program that police officers and sheriff’s deputies can use to press gun owners into safeguarding their weapons. At the organization’s annual conference in Philadelphia in October, the team premiered a public service announcement that showed a burglar stealing a gun from an unlocked car and then embarking on a robbery spree.

"We leave our cell phones in our cars, and we go crazy. But you leave your firearm and it’s like we forget," said Armando Guzman, a chief of police from Florida who was one of the principal architects of the prevention effort. "Look at the consequences."

Most states don’t require gun owners who leave weapons in a car or truck to secure them against theft. Kentucky’s law specifically says that owners may keep firearms in a glove compartment, center console, seat pocket, or any other storage space or compartment regardless of whether it is "locked, unlocked, or does not have a locking mechanism."

Homes are generally a more secure place to store firearms, but even indoors, guns can be a magnet for thieves.

Researchers at Duke University and The Brookings Institution found in 2002 that thieves were more likely to break into homes in areas where gun ownership rates were high. The researchers concluded that instead of being a deterrent to crime, guns enticed thieves looking for a lucrative score.

In a large share of the burglaries in which a gun was stolen, it appeared that was the only item taken, suggesting that the thief knew the house had a gun in it and went after it, said Philip Cook, a professor at Duke who co-authored the study.

"That’s why people who put up signs that say, ‘This house is protected by Smith & Wesson,’ are taking a chance, just like people who put NRA stickers on their cars are taking a chance," Cook said. "It signals that this might be worth breaking into."

Of the nearly 150,000 records of stolen weapons analyzed by The Trace and NBC in which the type of gun was listed, 77 percent were handguns.

Law enforcement officials and researchers say that stolen guns are usually sold or traded for drugs. "Guns are the hottest commodity out there, except for maybe cold, hard cash," said Kevin O’Keefe, the chief of the ATF’s intelligence division. "This is a serious issue."

Most stolen guns were recovered within the same city or state as the scene of the theft, sometimes years or even decades later, The Trace and NBC found.

The Trace and NBC identified more than 500 guns that were stolen and then crossed state lines, sometimes traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles, before turning up at the scene of a crime. Many of those guns followed trafficking routes that are well known to law enforcement, flowing from states with looser laws to states with stricter ones.

A Smith & Wesson stolen from an unlocked pickup truck in Florida was recovered in connection to a shooting in Camden, New Jersey. A revolver stolen in Hampstead, New Hampshire, found its way to Boston, where police stopped a gunman at a high school graduation. A .380-caliber Jimenez pistol stolen from a house in Hammond, Indiana, came into the possession of an 18-year-old gang member in Chicago, who tossed it onto a front porch while he was running from police.

In South Carolina, a former state trooper reported his .40-caliber Glock stolen from his unlocked pickup in 2008. The gun was recovered during a drug arrest and the former trooper got it back, only to have it stolen from his truck again in 2011. Four years later, New York Police Officer Randolph Holder, 33, was responding to reports of a shooting in East Harlem when he encountered Tyrone Howard, a 30-year-old felon who had been in and out jail since he was at least 13. Howard pulled out the stolen Glock pistol and fatally shot Holder in the head.

Few states require gun owners to report theft

When a gun store is burglarized, it must report any missing firearms. Under federal law, licensed firearms dealers have to maintain records — including the make, model, and serial number of each gun in their inventory — and provide them to investigators so they can attempt to recover the weapons.

Everyday gun owners are not held to the same record keeping requirements. Only 11 states and the District of Columbia have a version of a law that requires gun owners to report the loss or theft of a firearm to police. Law enforcement officials say stolen-gun reports help them spot trends, deploy resources, and get illegal weapons off the street.

Keane, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s senior vice president, said that while gun owners should lock up their weapons when they’re not in use, he opposes penalizing gun owners who don’t report a theft. "The focus has to be on criminals," he said. "If they’re using stolen firearms then there should be severe consequences from that."

Law enforcement experts and advocates of gun-violence prevention say that the attention should be on preventing thefts from happening in the first place.

Massachusetts is the only state where gun owners must always store firearms under lock and key, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. California, Connecticut, and New York require guns to be locked in a safe or with a locking device in certain situations, including when the owner lives with a convicted felon or domestic abuser.

All four states experience theft rates well below the national average, according to NCIC data.

"There ought to be some obligation in the law for gun owners to responsibly secure their firearms," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. "Congress should not only be looking at this issue, they ought to be acting on this issue."

— Daniel Nass, Max Siegelbaum, Miles Kohrman, Mike Spies of The Trace contributed to this story.


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<![CDATA[Todd Stroger Announces Run for Cook County Board President]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 19:40:55 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Todd-Stroger2.jpg

It appears, Cook County will see another Preckwinkle-Stroger showdown.

Todd Stroger on Monday announced he would be running for Cook County Board president once again, a position he had lost to Preckwinkle years ago.

With both candidates now holding a trail of criticism in their path over their controversial tax plans - Preckwinkle's repealed sweetened beverage tax and Stroger's sales tax increase - the upcoming political race will likely feel like deja vu for many. 

“The reason is because I’ve been around the county and the people I meet, they asked me to," Stroger said of why he's running. 

The pair will likely also face former Chicago Ald. Bob Fioretti, who announced last week his intention to run against Preckwinkle in the Democratic primary. 

The announcements come just over a month after commissioners voted in favor of repealing the soda tax spearheaded by Preckwinkle. 

The tax - enacted to balance the county budget and, according to Preckwinkle, stave off massive social service cuts - fueled public outcry from shoppers and business owners across the county.

While Preckwinkle was once so popular that she seemed to be a likely contender to unseat Emanuel, the tax has taken a toll on her approval ratings and made her more vulnerable to challengers.

“She made some bad mistakes. The sugar tax was a bad idea," Stroger said. “This isn’t 2010. This is 2017.”

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