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U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin at the the ATF's downtown office after touring the agency's new federal Gun Crime Intelligence Center. Photo by Art Golab.

Durbin touts Chicago's new gun crime intelligence center

In the wake of a wave of shootings and gun violence in Chicago, Sen. Dick Durbin on Friday toured a new federal Gun Crime Intelligence Center that opened here in June.

"You can't fight a war without intelligence, to know where the weapons are, where the shooters are and to stop it before it happens," Durbin said Friday at the Center's downtown offices.

The center, run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will serve as a clearinghouse of data on the more than 7,000 firearms used in crimes and recovered by Chicago police each year.



ATF agents, along with Chicago police detailed to the center, not only trace records and paperwork linked to recovered weapons, but look for patterns in where guns are used and where they come from.

The center will also work closely with ATF offices in Indiana, Mississippi, Wisconsin and other states that are the largest sources for crime guns brought into Illinois.

Durbin said that ATF, at the president's request, has beefed up its force here, adding seven agents for a total of 52. He hopes to bring even more agents here "to upgrade the crime intelligence efforts, so that we can get to these guns and these shooters before the crime and before the death."

On his tour, Durbin was told that a gun recently recovered from a Chicago suspect had fired a bullet casing found at the scene of an East St. Louis murder in 2013.

The information "may end up in the arrest and successful prosecution of this criminal, taking another thug and another shooter off the street," Durbin said.

Earlier this month, Durbin introduced legislation that would increase penalties for straw purchasers and illegal traffickers of firearms. Straw purchases involve someone with a clean criminal record buying guns and transferring them to criminals unable to buy guns legally.