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Mayor Richard M. Daley and U.S. Representative Mike Quigley today reiterated their support for passing federal legislation to subject every gun sale to a background check.
“As a mayor, one of my greatest responsibilities is to keep Chicago’s residents safe and secure. And one of the biggest challenges we face in meeting this responsibility is preventing criminals from illegally obtaining guns and using them,”Daley said in a news conference held at the Homan Square Police Warehouse, 3340 W. Fillmore St.
The backdrop for the news conference was the Chicago stop on a national truck tour organized to draw attention to the deadly problems that exist in our country’s gun background check system.
The tour has been organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of Mayors of 500 big cities and small towns of which Chicago is a founding member.
Each mayor in this coalition has signed a statement of principles committing to a common goal: protecting the rights of Americans to own guns, while fighting to keep criminals from possessing guns illegally.
The truck will travel the country for two months and is part of an online campaign that urges Congress to take two simple but critical steps to fix the broken background check system:
- First, ensure that the names of all people prohibited from buying a gun are in the National Instant Criminal Background check System (NICS), a national database of prohibited gun puchasers; and
- Second, subject every gun sale to a background check.
“The Supreme Court recently made a critical distinction that the 2nd amendment is not an unlimited right,” said Rep. Quigley. “Their ruling means that communities, such as my hometown of Chicago, can keep guns away from schools, and out of the hands of terrorists, felons, and the mentally ill. But first, Congress must dismiss the extremes and seize the middle ground. We must not only pass common-sense gun control legislation, but provide basic funding and close glaring loopholes in order to give these laws some teeth. For children in Chicago, students across the country, and the safety of all Americans, we must do better.”
The shortfalls and gaps in the nation’s background check system have deadly consequences, Daley pointed out.
They allow people like the Tucson shooter, the Virginia Tech shooter, the Fort Hood shooter and the Northern Illinois University shooter – all of whom had histories of serious mental illness – to purchase guns. They also allow people with criminal histories to purchase guns that are used every day to kill people.
“Gun violence is not just a Chicago problem, it is an American problem. In one year on average, almost 100,000 people in America are shot or killed with a gun,” Daley said.
“I know the NRA and the gun industry are proud of their efforts to stand in the way of common sense gun legislation, but the sad fact remains: gun violence numbers are something our country should be embarrassed about,” he said.
Daley said passing legislation to close the gun show loophole and fix the background check system has been part of Chicago’s federal agenda for years.
“We know it’s a difficult task and we have a well-funded opponent. But their money and their influence have not stopped us before, and it won’t stop us this year,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Daley announced the legislation the City will support in Springfield in 2011 to fight against illegal guns and gun violence.
The legislative package in Springfield includes several new proposals that strengthen penalties for gun crimes, as well as several proposals that have been introduced in the past, including increasing the penalty for selling a gun to a minor or a convicted felon, requiring background checks for private sales of guns, banning assault weapons and requiring gun dealers to be licensed by the state.
He said the NRA is hard at work in Springfield, and right now the state is at risk of taking enormous steps backward in the fight against illegal guns.
Last week in Springfield, a House Committee voted to eliminate the rights of Illinois municipalities to regulate guns. Next week, an Illinois House Committee will vote on a bill to allow Illinois residents to carry concealed weapons.
“These are not Chicago issues. Every resident and business in Illinois should be concerned when the rights of their city or town to protect public safety are in jeopardy and when our state lawmakers think our state will be safer if people can carry concealed weapons around with them in their daily lives,” Daley said.
“Every resident should be on the phone right now calling their state representative and their state senator to oppose these bills. 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,” he said.