Chicago July 4 Weekend Shootings: Weak Gun Laws Blamed For 14 Dead, 82 Shot

Jonathan Vankin

July 4 weekend in Chicago brought a staggering orgy of gun violence, with the death toll Monday counted at 14 people killed, with a staggering total of 82 people shot between Thursday afternoon an the earliest hours of Monday morning, as the city's top cop said that weak gun laws were to blame for the bloody holiday.

The body count included two teenagers shot dead by Chicago police officers in separate shooting incidents. In both cases, police said that the two teens, ages 14 and 16, were armed and refused police commands to drop their guns.

Chicago cops shot a total of five people, all on Friday and Saturday.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the wave of gun violence "unacceptable" and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said that weakened gun laws bore the brunt of blame for the shootings. Gang members, McCarthy said, face far more severe consequences from other gang members for not having a gun than they do from the law for having one.

When asked Monday why the level of gun violence in Chicago is much higher than in New York, where McCarthy was formerly deputy commissioner, McCarthy responded, "I can tell you very simply. The proliferation of firearms."

New York State has among the nation's toughest gun laws.

The gun violence orgy resulted in an average rate of about one shooting every hour for the entire July 4 Independence Day weekend, with the 82 shootings taking place over a period of 84 hours.

The final shooting of the weekend happened at about 12:30 in the morning on Monday when a 44-year-old woman leaned into a parked car outside a neighborhood barbecue and was shot dead.

Most of the shooting victims, however, were either teenagers or in their 20s, according to a Chicago Tribune report on the explosion of holiday weekend carnage. However, a 66-year-old woman was grazed in the head by a bullet that whistled past as she walked up her porch steps on the South Side of Chicago, where many of the shootings took place.

Among the other victims were two men who were shot and killed outside a beauty salon in the Chicago neighborhood of West Englewood; a 21-year-old woman who died from a shooting in East Garfield Park; and a man who was reportedly exhibiting gang hand-signs in the Clearing district. When an onlooker told him to stop making the gang-related gestures, the man refused and was shot dead.

The carnage also included a Wild West-style gun battle that was set off late Sunday night when a man opened fire on a couple leaving a store on Chicago's Exchange Avenue, seriously wounding both the 25-year-old man and 19-year-old woman.

Passers-by then pulled out guns and opened fire on the initial shooter. They missed, but chased the shooter on foot as all three fired wildly as they ran along the street into a vacant lot. None of the three were shot, but a 48-year-old man who just happened to be seated on his porch was wounded in the leg before Chicago police moved in SWAT teams and helicopters.