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Cops: Tougher gun laws would have kept 74 people from getting shot this year

Tougher gun laws would have kept 160 people behind bars so they could not have become suspected shooters or victims of gun violence this year, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Seventy-four shooting victims and 86 shooting suspects were previously convicted of gun possession and were free after serving time behind bars or receiving probation.

They would have been behind bars and not on the street to become victims or suspects under stricter laws — which include a minimum sentence of three years in prison for gun possession and “truth in sentencing,” said Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the department.

“I think the data underscore why we need to create a culture of accountability for those who engage in gun violence,” Guglielmi said of the ongoing police analysis of shooting victims’ and suspects’ cases.

There were 2,249 shooting victims and 370 murders in Chicago this year through Oct. 5. Murders have risen 21 percent this year over the same period of 2014.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy says too many guns are on the street. His cops have seized more than 5,500 of them this year.

So he is meeting with the mayor, aldermen and other community leaders to come up with a legislative proposal to make gun possession laws tougher and deter people from carrying them illegally, Guglielmi said.

Previous efforts have fizzled in Springfield.

“We have not quite fleshed out an ideal bill, but the bare minimum is that gun possession should be treated as a violent crime,” Guglielmi said.

Giving longer prison sentences to people convicted of gun possession “will give communities a chance to heal,” he said.

One year in prison is the minimum sentence in Illinois for illegal possession of a gun. The maximum is three. In Chicago, most people convicted of illegal gun possession are getting the minimum, one year, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis found last year.

For the more serious charge of being a felon in possession of a gun, the minimum sentence is two years in prison. The maximum is 10 years. In Chicago, felons illegally possessing a gun typically get four years, the Sun-Times found, toward the low end of the state sentencing guidelines.

Court records show 22-year-old Orlando Pryor is among the most recent gunshot victims with a recent gun possession conviction.

Pryor was shot during a robbery on Oct. 15. He was convicted of gun possession in October 2014 and sentenced to 24 months probation. He would still be behind bars if the law required a three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence and truth-in-sentencing, officials said.