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Mayor Richard M. Daley today outlined legislation the City will support in Springfield and Washington, D.C. in 2011 to fight against illegal guns and gun violence.
“Gun violence is not just a Chicago problem, it is an American problem. And it will continue to be until we understand that there are reasonable and responsible steps we can take as a nation to help end the needless gun violence that irresponsible people bring on our society,” Daley said in a news conference held at Chicago Police Department headquarters, where Daley was joined in support by legislators, organizations, parents of children who have been killed by guns and faith-based and other leaders.
The Mayor pointed out that there are more than 280 million privately owned firearms in the United States and that in an average year, almost 100,000 people in America are shot or killed with a gun and more than 3,000 children and teens die from gun violence.
“Last month’s terrible mass shooting in Arizona in very fresh in our minds today. But every day in America 86 people die from gun violence, and every day, eight children and teens die from gun violence,” Daley said.
The legislative package in Springfield includes several new proposals that strengthen penalties for gun crimes.
“Today, many people who are charged with or convicted of gun crimes end up back on the streets with little penalty, and sometimes with no penalty. Until penalties are strengthened, and until law enforcement and the judicial system at all levels of government work together more effectively on this issue, people will continue to get away with it,” Daley said.
The new proposals seek:
- The automatic transfer from juvenile court to criminal court for juveniles aged 15 to 17 who are apprehended for possession or use of a firearm.
- A mandatory minimum jail sentence of five years for a felon convicted of illegal gun possession and/or charged with other illegal gun crimes. Current law allows a felon guilty of a gun crime to receive a probation-eligible sentence.
- Increased penalties for pointing a gun at a first responder. Under current law, the penalty is 1-3 years in prison, with the possibility of probation or conditional discharge. The proposed bill would increase the penalty to 10 years. And,
- Increased penalties for a parent or guardian who brings a child with them when attempting or committing a felony. Under current law, it is already a felony if the child dies. The proposed bill would make it a felony if the child suffers serious injury or disability or if the parent or guardian simply brings a child with them when attempting or committing a violent crime.
Daley said the City also will submit several proposals that have been introduced in the past. These include:
- Increasing the penalty for selling a gun to a minor or a convicted felon.
- Requiring background checks for private sales of guns. Progress ahs been made on other background check issues, including requiring background checks to purchase guns from retail gun dealers and gun shows, but private sales are still a loophole.
- Banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines that enable a gun to hold more rounds of ammunition than it was originally manufactured to hold. And,
- Requiring gun dealers to be licensed by the state. The state requires licenses for most every other occupation and/or business in Illinois that impacts public safety, welfare and health – but not gun dealers.
At the federal level, the City will work to:
Reinstate the federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.
Ban high capacity magazines
Close the gun show loophole at the national level by requiring background checks for the purchase of guns at all gun shows.
Repeal the federal immunity law that applies to gun manufacturers, 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 hampers anti-gun trafficking efforts.
Daley pointed out in 2010 gun rights groups and the gun industry spent more than $6 million dollars to hire lobbyists whose sole job is to try to weaken federal gun laws.
Those who work for common-sense gun laws in Congress, including the Brady Campaign and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, are not as well funded. They spent only $250,000.
“The gun rights lobby’s money and their influence has not stopped us before, and it won’t stop us this year,” said Mayor Daley.
Daley said he knows the gun lobby will be very aggressive this year. Specifically, it will try again to push for a law that allows Illinois residents to carry concealed firearms and, in an effort to eliminate the City's new gun ordinance, will try to totally eliminate the authority of municipalities to regulate guns.
“We are ready for the fight. Despite strong opposition from the gun industry, we have had several important victories in the last two sessions in Springfield – including stopping the last “concealed carry” proposal – and we are confident we will prevail again,” he said.
Daley said he is proud of his record on the issue of guns and gun violence.
- One of the first mayors in the country to aggressively take on the gun lobby, at the local, state and national levels.
- The first mayor in the country to sue gun dealers, when the City argued that their sales of guns in suburban Chicago were contributing to crime in Chicago.
And under his leadership the City successfully defended Chicago's handgun ordinance all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and then put in place one of the strictest local gun laws in the nation after the Court invalidated the ban.
“Common sense gun laws that keep weapons out the hands of those who shouldn't have them and that hold manufacturers, gun dealers and gun owners to high standards can both support the 2nd Amendment and protect us,” Daley said.
“Reasonable gun laws -- laws that balance the need to protect the rights of gun owners with the necessity of reducing the threat of gun violence -- are the right thing for us to do,” he said.
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