Mayor Richard M. Daley, elected officials and community leaders today reiterated their strong opposition to HB 148, a measure pending in the Illinois House of Representatives that would allow Illinois residents to carry a loaded, concealed handgun in public.
"This bill must be defeated. Allowing concealed handguns in Illinois can turn the simplest everyday activities into dangerous situations," Daley said in a news conference held at the Austin Town Hall Cultural Center, 5610 W. Lake St.
Daley said that he and Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel have sent a joint letter to the General Assembly members in opposition to the proposal.
"In the letter, Mayor–Elect Emanuel and I urge the members not to compromise their leadership and their legacy on gun issues to please individuals who would have us believe that more guns will reduce violence," he said.
Daley said the United States is flooded with guns. There are more than 280 million privately owned firearms in the country -- almost one per person. In an average year, those guns shoot or kill almost 100,000 people in America and more than 3,000 children and teen-agers die from gun violence.
The Mayor said the pro-gun lobby has been more aggressive than ever this year in its efforts to weaken Illinois’ gun laws, but he said the people support common sense limitations on weapons,
For example, a poll commissioned last month by the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence shows overwhelming opposition to the concealed carry proposal. The poll showed that:
Daley said new research from the Violence Policy Center shows that in the past four years alone, nearly 300 people -- including 11 law enforcement officers -- have been killed in shootings by people who were legally allowed to carry concealed handguns.
"And there is no compelling evidence – despite what the gun advocates say -- to show that more guns make people safer," he said.
The Mayor said that some people argue that Illinois should have a concealed carry law because most other states do. But, he said, rates of gun violence in other states are generally the same as in Illinois and last year Chicago had its lowest number of homicides since 1965.
"This proposal won’t help those numbers. It will hurt them," he said.
Daley also said that the more handguns there are on the streets, the greater the challenge presented to law enforcement and public safety.
"Every day, police officers are confronted with offenders who are increasingly brazen and fearless in their actions. But at least now, police officers know that it’s illegal for a person to have a gun in a public place. If this bill passes, anyone waving around a gun on the street could be a legally-armed citizen of Illinois," the Mayor said.
Daley asked if Illinoisans:
"Passing this bill would send a clear message that the people of Illinois should resolve their disputes with violence," Daley said.
We need responsible legislation that focuses on reducing the number of handguns in our communities, not laws that encourage residents to carry dangerous weapons into parks and playgrounds, restaurants and movie theaters," he said.
Other opponents of the bill include:
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