A survey of Cook County inmates released Monday offers insight into Chicago’s underground market for gun sales, and includes details like who they buy guns from and where the guns originate.

“It is rare for offenders to buy from licensed dealers, and also rare for them to steal their guns. Rather, the predominant sources of guns to offenders are family, acquaintances, fellow gang members — which is to say, members of their social network,” researchers with the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago said of their findings.

They surveyed 99 inmates, who were selected base on their charges — the majority were gun-related — and their willingness to participate in exchange for a $10 phone card, at the Cook County Jail in the fall of 2013.

Although the interviews were done in person through a structured conversation, neither the interviewer nor the interviewee identified themselves. In other words, the interviews were conducted anonymously.

Researchers extracted statistical data from anecdotal details shared by the respondents. The data shows roughly 70 percent respondents would buy or sell guns, the majority of which were handguns, through their social network.

The majority, about 60 percent, either paid cash or traded something for a gun, 13 percent said they shared or were holding guns with others, and only 2.9 percent said their guns were stolen.

Respondents told researchers that they often only bought or sold guns within their social network because they were afraid of selling to an undercover cop or police informant, feelings that were shared among their peers. And more often than not,…

Continue Reading