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Offense Category

Deadly Weapons

What is it?

The illegal possession, sale or use of a gun, knife or other weapons.

What does our data show?

Unlike most types of cases, the number of felony weapons cases has risen slightly since 2000. In 2005, the armed habitual criminal state law went into effect. It criminalized being in possession of a gun after previously being convicted two or more times of certain felonies. The number of these cases tripled from 2006 to 2018. Illinois also has mandatory sentence enhancements of 15 to 25 years if a gun is possessed or used during the commission of certain other crimes, including robbery, kidnapping, murder or criminal sexual assault.


Detailed charts are unavailable for charges with fewer than 750 cases.

  • Felony
  • Misdemeanor

Race and Gender

This data shows that Black people make up the vast majority of criminal defendants charged in Cook County. Of the more than 3 million criminal cases filed in Cook County between 2000 and 2018, more than 61% were filed against Black people, even though Black people only make up 23% of the county’s population.

Research suggests the disparity has more to do with social inequity than an inherent link between race and criminality. Concentrated poverty in urban areas increases the likelihood of certain violent and property crimes, particularly in under-resourced, racially segregated communities. Black people are the most racially isolated group in Cook County and tend to live in communities where intergenerational poverty and violence, abetted by segregation, disinvestment, and institutionalized racism, have limited opportunities for many.

The disparities in charges also reflect inequities and racial bias in policing. Black people are disproportionately targeted for arrest. These numbers reflect overall trends seen in our era of mass incarceration, driven especially by law enforcement strategies such as Broken Windows policing, stop and frisk, disproportionate stops of Black drivers, and disparities in drug arrests.

Charges by Race and Ethnicity

Charges by race and ethnicity, men and women (72,437).

Black53,695 cases74.13%

Charges by race and ethnicity, men only (68,949).

Black51,217 cases74.28%

Charges by race and ethnicity, women only (3,206).

Black2,457 cases76.64%

Charges by Gender

Charges by gender, all races and ethnicities (72,437).

Male68,949 cases95.18%

Charges by gender, Black alone (53,695).

Male51,217 cases95.39%

Charges by gender, white alone (6,447).

Male6,053 cases93.89%

Charges by gender, Latinx alone (10,535).

Male10,299 cases97.76%

Charges by gender, other or unknown race or ethnicity (1,760).

Male1,380 cases78.41%

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