I smell a rat. Today’s Chicago Sun-Times story Getting a gun in Chicago quick and easy strikes me as confabulation. “Want to know how to get a gun? Just ask Chris. The skinny teen attends high school in Chicago and is a talented athlete. But he’s also a notorious gunslinger. As a shooter in a South Side gang, he can get his hands on a gun as quick as you can get a burger at a fast-food restaurant.” Hyperbole for sure. But is Windy City scribe and Pulitzer Prize winner Frank Main [above] another Stephen Glass or Janet Cooke? Here are some of the red flags . . .
The Chicago Sun-Times sat down with Chris for a lesson on how gangs get guns. Armed gangs like Chris’ have driven up Chicago’s murder total 28 percent above the tally at this time last year. And Chris is on the front lines of the shooting.
“For your ’hood, you can’t stop [getting] guns because it’s war season. A gang need any gun it can get,” said the teen, who has worked as an informant for police and asked for anonymity. The Sun-Times is identifying him by an alias.
Any story based on a single anonymous source is inherently dubious. Doubly so for a human interest story that “illustrates” or “sells” a point that jibes with the publisher’s bias/agenda (e.g., guns are too easily available).
“Say one of your guys gets bumped [arrested] with a gun,” Chris said. “Now your gang need another gun. It’s a lot of people who get bumped, a lot of people who get caught. The chances are like 50-50. If I get caught, I’m gonna need another gat.”
“Or you may have people who did a murder and want to get rid of their gun,” he said. “Now they get another gun and you take theirs.”
Wait, what? Where did Chris get the idea that the odds of getting caught with a gun in Chicago are 50-50?
More to the point, I reckon no gang banger worth his colors would knowingly take possession of a gun used in a murder. That makes no sense whatsoever.
Another source of stolen guns is “the freights,” Chris said.
He was talking about the freight trains parked on easy-to-access rail yards on the South Side.
“You bust the lock,” he said. “Once you get in there, you may get the wrong thing. You may get shoes or something. You feel me? But you keep trying. We tried it before and we know what kind of containers they in. They’re carrying all type of handguns — in crates.”
Huh? Handguns in crates in trains (unguarded ones at that)? True story, apparently. Back in 2000, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Between April and July last year, at least 35 brand-new guns were stolen as they sat in boxcars in the city’s South Side rail yards, waiting to be shipped to dealers, Chicago police and prosecutors say.
Only six of the weapons have been recovered–all in the hands of people with criminal records, according to Michael Smith, Cook County’s lead gang-crimes prosecutor. A gun stolen in a separate incident was involved in the accidental death of a 4-year-old Chicago boy in July, said State’s Attorney Richard Devine at a press conference Sunday.
Does this still happen? Maybe. If not . . .
Best case: the Sun-Times is buying a load of BS from a “playa” who remembers this incident. Alternate explanation: Frank Main Googled the story and put the words into a [possibly fictional] interviewee’s mouth.
But the revolver Chris most recently acquired came from yet another “hot” source: a friend who stole the gun from a relative who legally registered the weapon with the city.
The friend lent the revolver to Chris, but he never gave the gun back.
“It’s a grimy world these days, I won’t lie,” he said. “I told my friend I lost it, but I kept it for myself.”
The gun had a serial number on it, so Chris scraped it off with a screwdriver. The cops can’t trace the weapon back to the original owner without the serial number, he explained.
“I don’t want no one to snitch on me,” the teenager said.
The number of people who’ve legally registered handguns with the Chicago police is minuscule. The ones that have bothered to jump over numerous hoops (but still can’t take their gatt out of the house) are probably extremely cautious about security. They’re not likely victims of firearms theft.
The fact that Chris filed down the serial number on the once “legal” gun makes the story impossible to substantiate. Conveniently enough, given the implication that legally registered guns are a source of firearms for gang bangers like Chris.
I dunno. There are some parts of this article that have the ring of truth to them. But then they would, wouldn’t they?
If I were on the Sun-Times editorial board I’d want proof that Chris is real, including an audio tape of the interview. Main did record the interview, didn’t he? Just askin’ . . .