An exhibit in Chicago showed just how easy it is to purchase an AR-15. And unsurprisingly, since gun violence statistics in this city are shocking, it’s easy to buy one. Very, very easy.
As easy, it turns out, as renting a bike, according to the Metro Gun Share Program. In an installation that’s a mock-up of an urban bike sharing program, a bank of 10 mock AR-15s awaits exhibit-goers. This is the same gun that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida in February.
While Chicago has some pretty strict gun laws in place, one sign located near the display noted that additional tightening of gun laws may well need to occur at the federal level. Indiana, the sign noted, has gun laws that are quite lax and that “one in five Chicago crime guns come from Indiana.”
Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley, a Democrat, added more troubling stats by tweeting that 60 percent of the guns recovered from crimes in Chicago come from Indiana.
Getting a gun shouldn't be as easy as renting a bike—but in many cases, it is.
— Mike Quigley (@RepMikeQuigley) May 14, 2018
The 2016 gun violence statistics for Chicago were especially grim, New York Magazine reported. The first 10 days of the year were punctuated by three times as many shootings as there were in the same time period in 2015. As of January 12, 2016, 120 shootings that resulted in 19 deaths were reported.
Nearly 3,000 Chicagoans were shot in 2015 and in 2016 that number rose to 4,380 shootings, with a total of 808 homicides. That number is especially disturbing when you consider that an analysis by The Associated Press found that nationwide, 11,000 gun-related homicides occurred in 2016.
These statistics alone show why this installation was important.
The purpose of the installation, activists told BBC News, was to raise awareness about just how simple it is to “obtain a weapon of war.” One sign invited people to “unlock and load” the high-powered semiautomatic rifles.
“When you rent a bike it’s easy,” tourist Omar Bahey Eldin, 12 told NBC Chicago. “It’s easy to just rent a gun and it’s easy to kill a person with it.”
The Brady Center has long advocated for banning AR-15s, tightening up background checks for prospective gun buyers. The center also advocates that courts should be able to prohibit gun ownership for people considered to be a threat to themselves or others.
In the video below, a passerby reacts to the installation.
Featured image by Chicago Guerrilla Journalist via YouTube video