Westforth Sports, Inc. in Gary, Indiana, has “engaged in a pattern of illegal sales that has resulted in the flow of hundreds, if not thousands, of illegal firearms into the City of Chicago,” according to the lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
“I’ve worked tirelessly to reduce violence to keep our streets safe,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement Monday. “Time and time again, however, it has become even more clear that holding accountable all those who contribute to gun violence here, regardless of where they are located, is key to our ability to create a safer Chicago.”
The lawsuit alleges Westforth Sports “feeds the market for illegal firearms by knowingly selling its products to an ever-changing roster of gun traffickers and straw (sham) purchasers who transport Westforth’s guns from Indiana into Chicago, where they are resold to individuals who cannot legally possess firearms, including convicted felons and drug traffickers.”
The lawsuit filed in Cook County Chancery Court seeks a court order requiring Westforth Sports Inc., of Gary, to cease practices contributing to gun trafficking, as well as unspecified damages.
Records show the store has indeed been on the city’s radar for years. According to the 2017 Gun Trace Report by the Chicago Police Department, Westforth Sports was the third-largest supplier of crime guns into Chicago, with 2.3 % of all weapons recovered in the city between 2013 and 2016 having come from a sale there.
The store’s longtime owner, Earl Westforth, also ignored warnings from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about suspicious purchases at his store, despite remedial training on how to spot the signs of trafficking, according to the suit.
Westforth Sports is 10 miles from the Chicago.