Chicago suburb officials say firearm used in shooting was obtained legally

Officials in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park have revealed that the firearm used in a mass shooting at a July 4 parade in the area that left six people dead and dozens more injured was purchased legally.

“I don’t know where the gun came from but I do know that it was legally obtained,” Highland Park mayor Nancy Rotering told NBC’s Today show on Tuesday.

Her comments came as Congress is imposing federal restrictions on gun ownership after a number of deadly attacks across the country in recent months.

Illinois has some of the tightest gun control laws in the US, requiring universal background checks for purchasers and permits for those carrying firearms.

However, some neighbouring states have looser restrictions. Indiana, for instance, dropped its requirement for those carrying a gun to have a permit earlier this month.

Authorities have described the weapon used in the Highland Park attack as a high-powered rifle, which was fired from a rooftop in the downtown area of the Chicago suburb.

Robert E Crimo III, a 22-year-old man who was taken into custody as a “person of interest” on Monday evening after an eight-hour manhunt, is expected to be charged later on Tuesday.

Rotering said the suspect was not previously known to authorities, but added that she was his Cub Scout leader when he was a child.

“How did somebody become this angry, this hateful, to then take it out on innocent people?” the Highland Park mayor said.

“I don’t even want to ascribe it to mental health. I want us to talk about the fact that there are weapons of war on our streets, that people can legally obtain these, and then take out dozens of people. Our community is never going to recover from this wound,” Rotering added.

Law enforcement officials were on Tuesday still at the scene of the shooting collecting evidence.

The attack followed several other recent deadly shootings. In May, an 18-year-old white supremacist was accused of using an assault rifle to gun down 10 black patrons in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Later that month, an 18-year-old man fatally shot 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

The bipartisan gun safety bill, which was signed into law by Joe Biden, falls short of policies advocated by the president and other Democratic lawmakers, but it does include more stringent background checks for gun purchases and lets states introduce “red flag” laws to stop dangerous individuals from buying firearms.

The Highland Park attack came less than two weeks after the Supreme Court recognised a constitutional right to carry firearms for self-defence, and struck down a century-old New York state law that required individuals to show “proper cause” to hold a concealed gun in public.

The ruling is set to have significant consequences for the gun control debate.

It has also raised concerns that other states with similar limits on gun licensing — including the California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey — and the District of Columbia could also face legal challenges.

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