Chicago police are on track to recover over 12,000 guns this year, a record high and more than New York City and Los Angeles combined.
But those numbers look very different depending on where you are in the city. And even as more guns have been taken off the streets, shootings have continued to rise compared to last year.
Data provided by Chicago police shows 8,229 guns were recovered across the city by the end of August, with four more months left in the year. That figure marks a 19.2% increase in guns recovered compared to the same time period in 2020.
Last year, Chicago police recovered a total of 11,273 guns. In New York City, which is home to more than three times as many people as Chicago, that figure was 4,280, according to police. Officials in Los Angeles, which has roughly 1.4 times the population of Chicago, said police recovered 6,536 guns in 2020. In Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S. immediately after Chicago, police recovered 5,241 firearms last year.
In Chicago, the number of guns recovered varies widely among the city’s 22 police districts, data shows.
Chicago Police Department District Firearm Data
Source: Chicago Police Department
Credit: Andrew Williams/NBC
The 6th District, which includes parts of the Auburn Gresham, Chatham and Greater Grand Crossing neighborhoods on the South Side, had the most gun recoveries over the first eight months of the year at 993 – up 58.4% from last year.
That figure is more than 13 times the 73 total guns police have taken in so far this year from the 17th District, the district that has seen the fewest gun recoveries and includes North Park, Albany Park, Irving Park and Avondale on the Northwest Side.
The second highest number of gun recoveries this year has been in the 11th District, in East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park and Humboldt Park. Police there had recovered 840 guns by the end of August. That’s followed by Englewood and West Englewood, where police in the 7th District recovered 739 guns.
But more guns recovered this year hasn’t translated into a decline in shootings, which have also increased compared to 2020.
In the first eight months of the year across Chicago, at least 2,951 people were shot, 493 fatally, figures that were up 8.6% and 6.3%, respectively, since last year.
Elena Gottreich is a former prosecutor who is now the Chicago Police Department’s deputy director for prosecutorial strategy, tasked with creating a new plan to attack the flow of illegal guns into the city.
“We're recovering more guns than ever,” Gottreich said. “But what we need to be doing is recovering them prior to getting into the hands of people who are not allowed to have them.”
As part of that initiative, Supt. David Brown announced in July a team of 50 officers focused on gun traffickers, straw purchasers and anyone else putting guns in the wrong hands in Chicago.
Gottreich said part of the department’s strategy is to continue to emphasize aggressive prosecution of gun offenders.
“All we can do in Chicago, in the Chicago Police Department, is present the best case possible,” she said.