March 8, 2010

Mayor Daley Challenges General Assembly To Pass Comprehensive Set of Reasonable Gun Bills

Proposes Increasing Penalties For Selling Guns to Gang Members, Requiring “Microstamping” for Semi-Automatic Pistols
Mayor speaks about Gun legislation proposals at Press Conference
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Mayor Richard M. Daley today outlined the gun legislation proposals the City is supporting in Springfield and Washington, D.C. in 2010 and challenged the Illinois General Assembly to pass a comprehensive set of reasonable, common sense gun bills.

“We all know that most violent crime in Chicago -- including against our young people -- involves illegal guns. It’s the same story nationally, where the vast majority of violent crime involves illegal weapons,” Daley said in a news conference held at Chicago Police Department Headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Av., at which he was joined by legislators, faith-based, community and other leaders and by family members whose lives have been changed by gun violence.

“As a city, we can't rest in our ongoing fight to end the violence,” he said.

Daley pointed out that violent crime in Chicago fell in 2009 compared to 2008. Murders fell by 10.5 percent and the number of homicides so far in 2010 is down 17 percent compared to the same period last year.

“For many years I've argued that if we’re going to make our neighborhoods safer we need common sense laws that protect the rights of law abiding citizens to purchase guns but also help us end the flood of illegal weapons that kill our children,” the Mayor said.

Daley said people want such laws as pointed to a recent poll conducted for the national coalition “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” – of which Chicago is an active member -- that showed that there is much common ground between NRA members and non-members on the some gun laws.

The poll showed 69 percent of NRA members and 85 percent of Non-NRA gun owners support background checks for all gun sales at gun shows. And it showed that 82 percent of NRA members and 86 percent non-NRA gun owners support prohibiting suspected terrorists from purchasing guns Daley said another clear sign that people support common sense gun laws is the success in last year’s session in Springfield, in which the General Assembly passed three proposals Chicago introduced or supported.

One measure makes Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a gang member as a Class 2 felony, punishable by a minimum sentence of 3 years and a maximum of 10 years.

Another increases penalties for shooting students on or near school grounds and on or near public transit, and the third creates an interstate gun trafficking task force within the Illinois State Police.
“So, we have some momentum heading into the new decade, and that’s why it’s more important than ever that we work for common-sense gun laws that focus on stopping the flow of illegal guns into our communities and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals,” Daley said.

In Springfield, the City’s legislative package includes some proposals made in previous sessions, specifically:

 

  • To require background checks for the sale of private guns so that known criminals cannot purchase guns as easily as they can now.
  • To ban assault weapons, which serve no purpose for civilians other than to kill people. The Chicago Police department recovered a record number of assault weapons in 2009.
  • And to require gun dealers to be licensed by the state, similar to what is already required for most other occupations that impact public safety, welfare and health.
  • And to limit the number of handgun purchases to one per month.

Daley said the City has proposed new state legislation to:

  • Make it a mandatory Class 1 felony for knowingly selling or transferring a gun to a known gang member. People need to know that there are strong penalties in place for knowingly supporting gang violence.
  • Strengthen the penalties for unlawful use of a weapon, so that people caught carrying loaded weapons will not be let off scot-free as many of them are today.
  • Require semi-automatic pistols manufactured or delivered for sale in Illinois to be capable of “microstamping”, a next generation technology that helps law enforcement link spent ammunition with the gun from which it came.

Daley said that at the state level the City also intends to form a new organization of Illinois Mayors and religious, business and community leaders to collaborate on gun issues.

The group will focus on two key areas:

  • Ensuring that local leaders in Illinois understand and use the tools at their disposal to regulate gun activity legally within their boundaries, and
  • Building a network of mayors and village presidents to actively pursue common sense gun legislation at the state level.

In Washington, D.C., the City will call on Congress to:

  • Reinstate the federal assault weapons ban, which Congress allowed to expire in 2005.
  • Close the “gun show loophole” by enacting a federal ban on the ability of criminals to purchase guns at gun shows.
  • Repeal the federal immunity law that gun manufacturers enjoy, so they can be held accountable for wrongdoing just like every other industry, and
  • Repeal the “Tiahrt Amendment” that restricts local law enforcement from tracing illegal gun ownership and thwarts anti-gun trafficking efforts.

“What is so objectionable in these bills? Nothing, to the average people of Chicago and Illinois,” the Mayor said.

Daley said he remains hopeful that when the U.S. Supreme Court issues its final decision in June on the challenge by the gun industry to Chicago’s handgun ban, it will agree with the City’s belief in the right of municipalities and states to enact strict but balanced gun laws to keep their residents safe.

“The aggressiveness of the gun advocates is just one reason why it’s more important than ever that we work for common-sense gun laws that focus on stopping the flow of illegal guns into our communities and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals,” Daley said. 

“As Mayor, I will never give up or give in to the thugs who try to terrorize our streets, our neighborhoods and our communities. By enacting the gun laws we're proposing today, we can better protect all the people of our city, but especially our younger generation and our children,” Daley said.



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