Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan, Ltd. filed a lawsuit on July 7, 2015 for the Coalition for Safe Chicago Communities and others in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, alleging that the methods of licensing and regulating gun shops in Riverdale, Lyons, and Lincolnwood have the effect of increasing the level of violence afflicting African Americans and other minorities in violation of Section 5 of the Illinois Civil Rights Act.
“These municipalities have failed to take the necessary and most effective steps to discourage straw purchasing or illegal diversion of guns from stores in their jurisdictions,” said Tom Geoghegan, lead attorney for the Coalition. “Overwhelmingly and disproportionately, these illegal guns flow into Chicago’s African American communities, destroying lives and neighborhoods. It is our belief that the inaction of these suburban municipalities violates the civil rights of the people of Chicago.”
According to a 2014 Chicago report, three gun shops in Cook County and an additional shop in Gary, Indiana, provide nearly 20 percent of the guns recovered in Chicago crime scenes. Chicago Police confiscated illegal guns at a rate of one an hour over the holiday weekend, according to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
“The municipalities where these gun dealers operate are profiting off the unregulated access to firearms that end up in the hands of criminals and gang members through straw purchases, theft or secondary transfers,” said Kathleen Sances of the Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC Illinois), which supports the suit. “Those illegal firearms are flowing into a pocket of communities, violating the civil rights of the individuals who reside there, who are afraid to go near their windows or let their children play in the park, much less in their own yards.”
The suit asks the Court to require the three municipalities to improve the regulation and oversight of gun shops within their jurisdiction, in accordance with the best practices set forth in the Chicago report.