A gun store in Gary, Indiana, is responsible for selling “hundreds, if not thousands,” of illegal firearms that made their way into Chicago, where they were used to commit at least 850 violent crimes, according to a lawsuit filed by the city Monday.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has long complained about the flow of illegal guns into Chicago from Indiana, where gun control laws are much more relaxed than they are in Illinois.
At an unrelated news conference Monday afternoon, Lightfoot said it was time for the city to take action against Westforth Sports Inc.
“The time for us to stop to ask them to do better and make sure they’re not selling to straw purchases, do what they’re required to do as a federally licensed gun dealer, is over,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve tried that. It hasn’t worked. So now we’re in litigation with them.”
The suit, filed in Cook County Chancery Court, seeks a court order requiring the store to stop contributing to gun trafficking and to pay the city yet-to-be-determined damages.
Earl Westforth, the owner of the store which is 10 miles from the Chicago border, could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon by WTTW News.
The lawsuit accuses him of doing nothing to stop customers from lying about the ultimate owners of the guns they purchased, known as straw purchasing, even after being warned by federal authorities.
The store repeatedly allowed buyers to purchase a large quantity of guns as well as multiple copies of the same guns and other tactics designed to avoid alerting federal officials, according to the lawsuit.
The suit was filed by Everytown Law, which is affiliated with Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, as well as the city’s Law Department, assisted by Mayer Brown LLP, where Lightfoot worked as a partner before becoming mayor of Chicago.