Mayor Richard M. Daley today welcomed South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to the city and urged Chicagoans to embrace the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s message of anti-gun violence, justice and reconciliation.
"We are honored by this visit from a man who has dedicated his life to serving others and who embodies the qualities of leadership, courage and determination that are seen in the rare men and women who have the ability to bring about change in our world," Daley said in a City Hall news conference.
Archbishop Tutu is in Chicago to deliver the keynote address tonight at an interfaith dinner sponsored by the Chicago Bar Association at the Standard Club. Daley met withy Tutu before the news conference.
The Mayor said that Archbishop Tutu’s message of anti-violence and understanding is powerful one – and especially so because of his experience and his country’s experience under the rule of apartheid.
"As both priest and a teacher, he has touched the lives of many people through his unwavering humanity and his leadership. And his keynote speech will address a subject I have talked about many times - gun violence," Daley said.
Archbishop Tutu has worked all his life to spread peace, justice, and democracy.
Daley quoted Tutu's statement that: "Peace does not come from the barrel of a gun but is achieved when cultural differences are respected and the fundamental rights of all are recognized and upheld."
"I have said many times that one of our most persistent and frustrating challenges in our city and across our country is illegal guns and gun violence," the Mayor said. "Gun violence in the United States is a national epidemic. It takes the lives of eight people aged 19 and under every day," Daley said.
The Mayor pointed out that in Chicago for many years government has worked together with community, religious and business groups across the city to end the flow of illegal guns into the city’s neighborhoods.
"Illegal guns flow into our city for many reasons - lax regulation of gun dealers, gun trafficking from other states into Illinois, and because our laws are too lenient when it comes to people being able to buy large numbers of guns at one time," Daley said.
"That is why I have put a priority on passing common sense gun laws that balance the need to protect the rights of gun owners and protect the safety of our streets and neighborhoods - not just in Chicago, but across America," he said.
The Mayor called on Chicagoans to take inspiration from the "powerful presence of Archbishop Tutu" and rededicate themselves to the effort to protect the city’s neighborhoods and children from gun violence and work to enact reasonable gun laws at the state and federal levels.
Daley also voiced strong opposition to so-called "concealed carry" legislation, two versions of which already have been approved by a House Committee in Springfield and will be called for a floor vote soon.
"We have managed to defeat this kind of legislation in the past, but the votes are always very close and we need to let Springfield know that we don’t need more guns in the streets; we need fewer guns on the streets," Daley said.
"If this legislation passes, guns will flood our streets in ways not imagined and will bring more violence and terror to our neighborhoods," he said.