Top 25 guns seized by the Chicago police (courtesy thetrace.org)

I’ve already fisked thetrace.org‘s analysis of the source of Chicago’s “crime guns.” Suffice it to say, it’s all about the free market – even when it’s a black market. The idea that creating more onerous background checks in Illinois’ surrounding states would “choke-off” Chicago’s criminals from the tools of their trade is prima facie absurd. Anyway, we thank The Trace for putting together the above info-graphic. Here’s some Bloombergian analysis of the montage . . .

A few patterns emerge. The city’s criminals, for instance, prefer semiautomatic pistols to revolvers and generally seek out cheap junk guns. What’s also notable is the type of gun that doesn’t appear among the top models seized. In 2014, Chicago police recovered only three assault weapons associated with criminal incidents. “Often there’s a misimpression about the importance of assault guns and assault weapons, and it’s important to point out how rare that is,” says Phillip Cook, an economist at Duke University who studies underground gun markets. “The guns being used in Chicago for crime and murder are by and large very ordinary pistols.”

Cheap junk guns? While The Trace doesn’t reveal the models of the firearms charted above, IF we were to call any of the guns “cheap” (rather than inexpensive) it would be the firearms manufactured by Hi-Point, Lorcin and Raven. Combined, they account for just 193 out of the 1799 guns in the Chicago PD’s top 20 “crime guns.” (The grand total is 6,521.)

So “cheap junk guns” make up around ten percent of the total. Makes sense to me. Gang banging is a professional occupation. Professionals select their tools carefully – or as carefully as they can given their education level. As this survey shows, very few are stupid enough to try to consider an “assault gun” (i.e. a rifle) the appropriate weapon for committing a[nother] felony.

Nearly two decades after its rocky safety initiative, Smith & Wesson is Chicago’s leading producer of crime guns. The company holds four spots among the 20 guns most frequently recovered by police — more than any other brand — and is the most popular manufacturer overall, with 624 total guns seized in 2014. It’s worth pointing out that Smith & Wesson is the country’s largest firearm manufacturer, which may account for the prevalence of its products among the city’s crime guns.

Ya think? More interesting:

The weapons of choice for gangs today are 9MM semiautomatic handguns, followed by .40 caliber and .45 caliber semiautomatics, says Thomas Ahern, an ATF senior agent based in Chicago. It makes sense then that those calibers account for about half of the crime guns recovered by police.

Until the 1980s, .38-caliber revolvers were the most popular crime guns, according to Cook. These revolvers were more reliable and cheaper than semiautomatic pistols of the era. But that changed as manufacturers began producing semiautomatics that were just as efficient and affordable as revolvers. What makes semiautomatics particularly appealing to gang members is that they generally have a higher capacity than revolvers, meaning they can fire more shots before it’s necessary to reload.

I find it interesting that 9mm, .40 and .45 make up such a small percentage of the “crime guns.” The Lorcin is a small .380 caliber pistol. The Raven’s a diminutive .25 caliber handgun. Both are fine for intimidation, which is probably just as important as capacity or accuracy in the gang bangers’ world. Both conceal easily. But neither is an ideal choice for anything other than bad breath distances.

[Duke University economist Philip] Cook’s research has shown that crime guns purchased by gang members tend to be an average of 12.6 years old.

I reckon .38 caliber revolvers are still a go-to gat thanks to their longevity (as above), simplicity and style. As I’ve said before, revolvers look more like a gun than semis do; they’re better for intimidation. Also, revolvers require less maintenance than semis. Which is another reason why gang bangers and GLOCKs –guns with a well-deserved rep for functioning without cleaning and lubrication — are a logical fit.

“A lot of gang members and criminals are settling for what they can get their hands on and afford,” says Duke’s Phillip Cook. But just because gang members can’t afford a Glock, that doesn’t mean they don’t want one. “Glock would probably be the weapon of choice for most of the gangs,” says the ATF’s Thomas Ahern. “They view Glocks as top of the line.”

Thank you Hollywood and rap. And again, thanks to The Trace for giving us insight into the world of Chicago “crime guns.” Here’s hoping they put as much work into researching defensive gun uses by law-abiding citizens. And then I woke up.

Recommended For You

73 Responses to The Trace’s Report on Chicago’s “Crime Guns” (Pt. 2)

  1. I was amazed that anybody used a Hi-Point .380. That seems pretty pointless. Freaking big, fat, heavy, and underpowered. I see the value of the Hi-Point (in 9, .40, or .45), and I see the value of tiny .380 pistols like Kel-Tec, LCP, Bodyguard, or Bersa. I just don’t get the .380 Hi-Point.

    Actually, the article by the Trace is rather pointless. The types of guns seized seem fairly representative of the types of guns that are generally out there (a bit older guns than average, I’d think). It just doesn’t really tell us anything.

    Also, the fact that they don’t break it down by model means that the info is even less useful. They talk about Ruger 9mm, S&W .38 specials, S&W 9mm, etc. We don’t know if these Rugers are P series, SR series, or LC series of 9mm.

    Also, were these guns used in actual violent crimes? Or, are these just guns that weren’t registered and were seized or something?

    • About 5,6 months ago here in cincinnati, ohio, we had a police officer named sonny kim killed with a hi point .380, by a mental case wanting to commit suicide by police. He got his wish when back up arrived. My point being, any gun can kill, even cheap, underpowered hi points.

      • It’s just that the 9mm Hi-Point is the same price, and same size as the .380. When that is the case, who buys the .380? Hi-Point also recently came out with a .380 carbine. That makes even less sense. It is the same size and price as the 9mm. There is no recoil with a PCC anyway. Who would want a .380 carbine? Disclaimers: I have a Hi-Point 40 caliber carbine and like it fairly well. I also have a tiny pocket .380 Kel-Tec and like it too.

        • Look I’ve talked with folks formally from the bad groups of gangs (mostly online but some in person) and they mostly grab a gun and any box of cartridges and see if they fit. I shit you not. Generally for anything beyond holding the gun and pulling the trigger they have an “armorer” who has basic gun knowledge that many of us might have, usually someone with a cleaner record too to keep all the guns. Its pretty scary, makes me wonder how many times a criminal has K’B’d a gun in their hand while trying to rob/rape/murder someone.

    • The lack of breakdown is un-useful to you, but you don’t need to know the model if you’re the Trace. All guns are equally scary, deadly, and evil.

      By the way, anyone catch it? The S&W 9mm is a 45. They almost got away with it, too.

      • Yep, looks like a model 457S. Note that their “Glock 9mm” is a 43. Also probably not representative.

    • I think most of these criminals arm themselves for the purposes of intimidation. I highly doubt they know anything about ballistics but they do know when the average unarmed person sees a firearm they’re going to comply.

      • “they do know when the average unarmed person sees a firearm they’re going to comply.”

        Indeed.

        Note that 54 Ruger Mk.IIs were seized.

        We know it’s a basic target pistol, but the gang-bangers might think it’s a 9mm Luger…

    • I see that the most popular appears to be a Ruger P-85 or P-89. It would appear then that their infographic is intended to display manufacturers and types rather than actual models because it seems unlikely that the P-series would be that heavily represented individually, as with the other pistols shown.

      As most of you can look at the picture and spot the make/model and often caliber, it is highly likely that they used representatives of the manufacturer/style rather so that they could say Ruger semi-automatics, 179! When there might be half a dozen or more models of 9mm Rugers in the top 20. Makes for scarier statistics and gets the major manufacturers (S&W, Ruger & Glock) in the top 20.

    • No, Hi-Point and Glock [are very well represented], because they are cop throw-down pieces.

      Like your response to the 911 Operator “Why do you want my name? What, you shot somebody and now you’re looking for a suspect?”

  2. If you cannot buy a gun, unless through an FFL, then the tools you’ll need to rid yourself of an overbearing tyrannical government [comprised of your a-hole neighbors needing jobs] WILL BE WHOLLY CONTROLLED BY GOVERNMENT. Ignoring that logic will only likely get your balls fed to you.

    Don’t let your a-hole neighbors become the people that your founding fathers warned you about (and gave you the 2nd Amendment as an out). They are too close already.

  3. “What’s also notable is the type of gun that doesn’t appear among the top models seized. In 2014, Chicago police recovered only three assault weapons associated with criminal incidents.”
    Something not surprising to anyone with a brain and has a smidgen of knowledge on the subject.

    • And notice they never identify the supposed crime that resulted in the confiscation of those weapons. Were they actually involved/used in those crimes or were they merely present at the location? Or was the possession of the weapon the crime itself?

    • But at least we got it in writing now – direct from the Horse’s (or in this case radical pro-tyranny Propagandist’s) mouth.

      If they are going to discount all but the most liberal sources, we now have a liberal source that flat out tells us – the “problem” with “assault weapons” is entirely fictional.

  4. 12.6 years old? That’s a hell of a long trek from Indiana. Must be sending them by the United States Postal Service.

  5. The Rossi .38 was what I originally bought for a car gun, the theory given by the salesman was that it was inexpensive enough that one would not care if it was stolen.

    I’m not fond of it, don’t use it, and I would care a great deal if a gun of mine was stolen, no matter the cost.

    Others I know who car carry choose a High Point. Same theory.

    • I usually have a shotgun with buckshot in the back of my jeep, but it’s also in a locked heavy steel box that’s chained to the frame.

      I of course still carry my Sig.

    • My ex-wife’s first pistol was a Rossi 357, and my current girlfriend’s first was a Rossi 38. Both of them decided to buy one on their own, with no input on mine or the FFL’s part. They are decent enough revolvers, and seem to be better made than other offerings at the same price point. I personally find that they fit my hand better than more expensive revolvers, but had to do some work on both to make the double-action pull managable for the girls who bought them.

      • +1 My girlfriend, who became my wife has a 5 shot Rossi .38 snub in stainless, great little gun.( I had never been “pretty gun” shopping) I recently upgraded from a charter arms undercover (5 shot .38) to the Rossi 6 shot.357 stainless snub. Shoots wonderfully. I was impressed.

  6. IF we were to call any of the guns “cheap” (rather than inexpensive) it would be the firearms manufactured by Hi-Point, Lorcin and Raven.
    Which most if not all people in indiana would refuse to own.

  7. Who the giant F cares what the tools are (I’m yelling at the Trace). This is like fascinating over what brand kitchen knife Jeffery dahlmer used to cut his victims into freezer size peices. Or what brand freezer he used to store the parts in. The tool is not the problem. You will not have a chance of fixing the problem until you actually focus on the root cause. But then that’s obviously not the Trace’s goal

  8. there’s a misimpression about the importance of assault weapons, and it’s important to point out how rare that is,”
    Which is something people in Indiana would own.

  9. . “Glock would probably be the weapon of choice for most of the gangs,”
    Without an external safety, most gang members would shoot off their junk when they stick it in their pocket and play pocket pool.

  10. Welcome to a cross section of the most common firearms sold in America today in the most common calibers sold today. An estimated 40% of crime guns are stolen, and that in turn means that at least 40% of the guns will likely fit a similar cross section.

  11. I’d venture to guess that many of these guns were former LE issue, either sold cheap, or stolen. Seeing how many of them had those origins would be interesting, but would not support the template and narrative.

    • We know that the recent Philly attempted assassination of an LEO was committed with a recently (2013) stolen police issue gun. We know the sensational murder by a previously deported Mexican citizen in San Francisco was committed with a recently stolen Fed LEO’s gun.

      In other words, we know that unless LEOs learn to protect their own firearms successfully, no gun regulation is like to do any good.

    • Yeah – I was trying to think why there were more Glocks in .40s than in 9mm, and my thought was cop guns – stolen or lost. I guess one should add, retired and sold.

      I imagine that for the bangers there’s a certain frisson in using a cop gun.

  12. Okay, time to cut the crap on guns in Indiana going to Chiraq.
    I have lived in Indiana all of my life and have known lots of fellow Hoosiers, and so….
    A majority of people in Indiana do not have handguns. If handguns are present, they usually are some sort of .22 LR target Ruger or High Standard type pistol, some .357 revolvers, some larger auto pistols in .45 ACP, and 9MM.
    Shotguns are wall to wall in Indiana with hordes of pump and auto models in most households. Single shot shotguns are about as numerous as the pump models.
    .22LR semi-auto rifles are in about every household. Numerous .22LR youth rifles are present.
    Many people in Indiana did not have centerfire rifles, but that has been changing. Indiana center fire rifles used to be mostly bolt or lever action, but AR-15 rifles have become more popular.
    I think all the guns going into Chiraq from Indiana is BS.

  13. The 9mm Glock pictured is a 43. I seriously doubt even a single G43 was seized. 17s and 19s and perhaps even a 26 or two, but a 43? Splitting hairs, I know, but details are my business.

    Anyone notice any other discrepancies?

    Cool info-graphic nonetheless. Thanks.

  14. I’m going to go ahead and say that criminals probably are not debating the difference between a Glock or a Smith and Wesson, or sneering at the gang bangers who have a Hi Point. I’m not a part of that culture, but I’m guessing they are mostly looking for a gat. Or a glock (intentionally spelled worth a lowercase ‘g’ because it is used as a generic term for a semi auto pistol). Our even just a 9.
    How many criminals do you really think are picking up the latest edition of Guns and Ammo to read the latest on the 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 debate. Probably none. You may call them professional criminals, but they do not typically display the dicipline or discernment that a true professional would. They are mostly just looking for a tool.

    • Yeah, that “professionals select their tools carefully” bit is ridiculous. The “professionals” that are getting busted by the Chicago PD are mostly low-level punks, and the selection process they use for their tools is probably mostly “whatever’s available”. The reason a gangbanger has a Glock (an actual one of Gaston’s guns, not a “glock”) is because that’s what Pookie’s cousin stole from his mama’s boyfriend, not because it’s more reliable or ballistically superior or whatever.

  15. S&W should use their first place finish in their advertising, since, as we all know, people who buy guns do so with the intention to sell them to criminals.

  16. Alrighty then-saw this graphic a few days ago. Are they including gun “buybacks”? I don’t think many Lorcins are around(although they sell a whole lot of junk guns at Westforth in Gary(actually Calumet Twp.)-mostly Hi-point,Jimenez junk for a bit over $100.

  17. I notice all the firearms indicate “seized.” I assume that to mean the criminal had the firearm on or about their person.

    Wouldn’t that tell the lie about microstamping?

    Just wondering things out loud.

  18. I think one reason you see so many “inexpensive” guns on the list has a lot to deal with the people selling them. If someone dealing in balckmarket guns can sell a hipoint for $500 they can make a nice profit.

    • I don’t think that’s what’s going on, though. Guns on the street go for less than market. If they went for more you’d just do a straw purchase. Guns on the street are usually stolen or there’d be no profit.

    • Statistically, criminals commit crimes in areas which are close to where they live.

      Likely the guns were stolen by people in poor neighborhoods from people in poor neighborhoods. So, the fact that a lot of “cost effective” guns were on the list is not really much of a surprise.

      I saw a gang documentary were a young banger, who was not even old enough to drive, purchased a stolen .25ACP, I don’t recall the brand, for less than $50. And he carried it around, just as proud as can be.

  19. “As I’ve said before, revolvers look more like a gun than semis do; they’re better for intimidation.”

    I can see that. Even on the cheezy little ghostbusters-style no guns signs, they still use a revolver silhouette. Inveterate imagery dies hard.

    Even at the airports, the no bombs signs still use either the bundle of dynamite bomb image or, my personal favorite, the bowling ball looking thing with the squiggly fuse sticking out. Who’s used bombs like those since the silent movies or the California gold rush days? Yet, those are still the images we take as representaive.

      • Ooops….sorry….

        Step 1 Open mouth
        Step 2 Insert foot

        I should’ve known with that crack that I was going to lose a high percentage of my pro-antique incendiary device audience. It’s hard not to offend in here sometimes. I’ll know for next time.

  20. “Combined, [Hi-Point, Lorcin and Raven] account for just 193 out of the 2,340 guns…”
    I count 330 of these makes. There are 137 of the 9mm models alone, plus the .40, .380 and .25 calibers.

  21. Chicago police and cops all over the state of IL will be able to seize much nicer guns thanks to NRA contract lobbyist Donald Todd Vandermyde. Here’s the language from the SB836 “improvement” to the conceal carry bill. I am not making this up:

    “If a licensee carrying a firearm or a non-resident carrying a firearm in a vehicle under subsection (e) of Section 40 of this Act is contacted by a law enforcement officer or emergency services personnel, the law enforcement officer or emergency services personnel may secure the firearm or direct that it be secured during the duration of the contact if the law enforcement officer or emergency services personnel determines that it is necessary for the safety of any person present, including the law enforcement officer or emergency services personnel. The licensee or nonresident shall submit to the order to secure the firearm. When the law enforcement officer or emergency services personnel have determined that the licensee or non-resident is not a threat to the safety of any person present, including the law enforcement officer or emergency services personnel, and if the licensee or non-resident is physically and mentally capable of possessing the firearm, the law enforcement officer or emergency services personnel shall return the firearm to the licensee or non-resident before releasing him or her from the scene and breaking contact. If the licensee or non-resident is transported for treatment to another location, the firearm shall be turned over to any peace officer. The peace officer shall provide a receipt which includes the make, model, caliber, and serial number of the firearm.”

    So now ambulance drivers are shrinks, and cops can take your guns away if they feel like it. Just what we want, cops grabbing guns and “accidentally” shooting armed citizens. Brandon Phelps, the ignorant Klansman from Harrisburg and the “man” who sold out Otis McDonald, conniving with his rat scum sidekick Vandermyde to make the carry bill even worse, if that was humanly possible. Proof positive that Satan does not take weekends off.

      • Raul- ISRA under Richard Pearson is possibly the most ineffective NRA state affiliate in America. First Pearson did nothing for 15 years to promote concealed carry in IL and actively opposed it. Then he got involved in signing up Otis McDonald to sue Chicago and take it to the Supreme Court. ISRA & NRA have now learned to use black people as their face men for lawsuits.

        When the U.S. Federal Court in Chicago totally overturned IL’s concealed weapons law in Dec. 2012, Pearson and his sidekick Donald Todd Vandermyde fell all over themselves to put Duty to Inform in Rep. Brandon Phelps carry bill, because the police unions wanted it. Ask Pearson why they put DTI in the bill, and he will answer, “There is no DTI in the bill, it’s only if the officer asks.” I am not making this up.

        Pearson and ISRA are mostly aging baby boomers from all-white small towns who live in a fantasy land where police are your friends. If you are a good old boy like Pearson and you know the secret handshake, the police will never bother you, because you are “one of the good guys.” It is not possible to describe how stupid these retarded hicks really are. Pearson is a clown, and Vandermyde is the rat who sold out every gun owner in IL.

  22. The average age of 12.6 yrs for the guns indicates these guns have been around and passed through many hands. It’s safe to say that guns aren’t going directly from gun store to street shooting or store robbery. It would be interesting to know which ones were stolen vs. purchased legally implying straw purchases. Media likes to imply that criminals are buying guns directly from “dirty” gun stores or gun shows.

  23. I just noticed that Lorcin’s full name is “Lorcin Engineering Company”. How much engineering do you reckon went on there?

  24. When I lived in SoCal (free state now) a friend who was former LAPD told me that you would see water heaters in back alleys. These were used by gang members to test their cheap pistols, stick it in the heater and if it didn’t blow up they were GTG.
    With the ban on “Saturday Night Specials” the gang members did not leave the life and go to a community college.They simply put out a little more money to get a better gun.
    I have often wondered how many officers, shop keepers and mugging victims would be alive today if the bad guy’s cheap gun had blown up. Instead they had a more reliable one and an innocent life is no longer here.
    Although, one dealer remarked in an aside that they steered suspected gang members to one particular brand of 1911 due to it’s poor reliability. That brand is no longer with us.

  25. I recently had to travel to the south west side of Chicago to pick up a new puppy from a breeder.
    I was glad I was carrying. One street corner had ladies of the night and the opposite side had corner boys. I’m sure they were not selling candy bars for a school fundraising event.
    This was about a 12 block area that every street was this way. It has earned the name Chiraq.

    • You were glad you were carrying why again? Sounds like they didn’t bother you at all and instead you’re just afraid of (some) black people.
      Also, I’m here to tell you as someone who works on the west and south sides in the HIDTA, a lot of guns come from Indiana. Gun shows are the easiest ways to get guns and they’re highly prevalent in northwest Indiana.

  26. Back in 2010, TTAG published this paper: “ATF eTrace: Backdoor National Firearms Registration Scheme
    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2010/10/robert-farago/atf-etrace-revealed-backdoor-national-firearms-registration-scheme/

    “Dr. Paul Blackman put it best in his paper “Uses and Limitations of ATF Tracing Data” in 1998. His conclusion? “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. This old data processing principle describes the fact that computers will unquestioningly process the most nonsensical input data and produce nonsensical output. ATF tries to convince Congress, Law Enforcement, and the American People, that ATF systems produce “Garbage In, Gospel Out”. But such is not the case.

    To paraphrase Dr. Blackman: When garbage data is processed (as in ATF Firearms Tracing Systems), garbage will be produced as output. Analyses of tracing data, however performed, are like discussions of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. There is no need to carefully evaluate the data or the analyses; they are worthless. ATF has been forced to publish a disclaimer (the “small print”) with each of their reports which states, “Not all firearms used in crime are traced, and not all firearms traced are used in crime.”

    Nevertheless, ATF goes on to refer to traced guns with false and misleading “catch-phrases”. They falsely call every traced gun a “crime gun”. They create meaningless and misleading statistics on “Time to Crime” (in reality “Time to Trace”), mythical most popular crime guns (actually most often traced) and Source States for Recovered Firearms which implies illegal gun trafficking but could be entirely legal interstate used gun transfers or people simply moving to a different state. ATF is using deliberately misleading phrases and being openly and fundamentally dishonest with Congress and the American People.”

  27. That’s a lovely graphic to have handy for the next attempt at an “assault weapons ban.”

    I don’t see a “folding thing that goes up” on any of those recovered crime gun.

  28. I think you’ll find that as police departments switched to 9MM, .40 and .45 semi autos and away from .38’s, they became more prevalent in the consumer market as well, and that drove the change for criminals

    My non-scientific analysis based on what I saw in Los Angeles during the Crack Wars

  29. “Smith & Wesson .38” isn’t a “crime gun,” it’s a “broad, synthetic category.” It’s about as useful as saying one of the “top 20 autos” involved in moving violations is a “six-cylinder Ford.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *