February 24, 2009

Mayor Daley Outlines City's State and Federal Gun Legislation Program

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Richard M. Daley today outlined legislation the City will support in Springfield and Washington, D.C. in 2009 to end the flow of illegal guns into Chicago.

"Gun violence is a national epidemic. It happens every day in every part of our country -- in urban and rural areas, in cities large and small," Daley said in a news conference held at Chicago Police Department Headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Avenue at which he was joined by community leaders, faith-based leaders and other elected officials.

"In our ongoing efforts we will never sway from our commitment to support the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. All of these proposals protect the rights of law abiding citizens, including hunters, to purchase guns," the Mayor said.

Daley pointed out that gun violence is responsible for the death of nearly 30,000 Americans every year. The most recent federal statistics say that in 2005, eight young people aged 19 and under were killed a day by a firearm in the United States.

For many years, the City has worked with community, religious and business groups to end the flow of illegal guns into Chicago neighborhoods.

With broad community support, the Chicago Police Department continues to seize thousands of illegal weapons each year. Since 2006, the City's gun turn-in programs have collected almost 16,000 weapons, Daley said.

Already this year, the Police Department has seized 1,100 weapons, which is 253 more than last year at this time, including 52 assault weapons. Since the federal ban was lifted in 2004, the Department has seized 1547 assault weapons.

The Mayor said that:

  • Guns are involved in the majority of homicides and violent crimes that are committed in Chicago.
  • The majority of homicides in our Chicago are committed by gangs using guns -- probably against other gang members.
  • Children and students are too often the victims of gun crimes -- in their homes, on our streets and both before and after school hours.
  • Illegal guns flow into Chicago 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 the legislative package was developed with an understanding of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling issued in June last year in the Washington, D.C. case. It was the first time in more than 70 years the Court had addressed the Second Amendment.

"Our view remains that the ruling applied specifically to Washington, D.C. and did not affect the legality of Chicago's long time ban on guns. Importantly, the Supreme Court ruling did not interfere with long-established precedent that cities and states have the right to enact laws that reasonably affect the ownership and possession of weapons," he said.

In Springfield, the City's legislative package includes six proposals that would:

License gun dealers (HB180):

What the bill does: Requires handgun dealers to be licensed by the Department of State Police. The bill is narrowly tailored to have no effect on gun owners or gun purchasers. Dealers who do not sell handguns are not affected. The licensing provisions will have virtually no effect on law-abiding dealers.

Nationally, 1% of gun dealers are responsible for 57% of guns recovered in crimes. In the Chicago area, less than 1% of gun dealers (65 dealers) are responsible for 48% of all guns used in Chicago crimes.

Limit gun purchases to one a month (HB12):

What the bill does: Prohibits multiple sales of handguns to an individual within a 30-day period. It also creates the offense of unlawful acquisition of handguns. Studies show that handguns sold in multiple sales to the same individual purchaser are frequently used in crime.

Close the "private sale loophole" (HB48):

What the bill does: requires all private sales of handguns to undergo a background check by a federally-licensed firearms dealer prior to sale. Every year, thousands of handgun sales occur by unlicensed sellers without background checks on the purchaser. This "loophole" results in many handguns getting into the hands of criminals. Requiring background checks for all private sales will reduce illegal handgun trafficking.

Nationwide, 40% of gun transactions occur through unlicensed sellers and "no questions asked" private deals that require no background checks. The proposal exempts transfers between spouses, parent and child, or grandparent and grandchild.

The House Executive Committee will conduct a hearing on HB 48 February 25.

Pass a statewide ban on assault weapons (HB165):

What the bill does: Bans semi-automatic assault weapons and .50 caliber military grade rifles. Provides for current owners of these weapons to retain them, as well as numerous other exemptions including shooting at the Sparta Complex, Olympic events, weapons allowed under the Wildlife Code for hunting, and for blank-firing types used in movies.

Increase penalties for shooting students HB 867):

What the bill does: Increases penalties for shooting students on or near schools grounds and on or near public transit.

Create task force

What the resolution does: Creates an anti-gun trafficking task force and calls upon other Midwest states to do the same.

The Mayor also said the City will support two bills suggested by Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to increase the penalties for disarming a peace officer and to require gun owners to report a lost or stolen gun within 72 hours.

And he reiterated his strong opposition to so-called "concealed carry" legislation, which already has been approved by a House Committee this session.

At the federal level, the City will support legislation to:

  • Repeal legal immunity for gun manufacturers so they can be held responsible for wrongdoing, just like every other industry in the United States
  • Reinstate and expand the federal assault weapons ban to keep the most dangerous weapons off the market and off the streets.
  • Repeal the Tiahrt Amendment that restricts local law enforcement from accessing gun trace data to trace illegal gun ownership.
  • Require micro-stamping of guns so that law enforcement can link spent casings with gun crimes and trace illegal gun ownership.
  • "Does anyone really believe that the founders of our nation envisioned that illegal weapons would flood our streets and be used to kill our children? Did they believe that some in our nation would defend the purchase of assault weapons, even as they're used to cut down the lives of innocent victims across the nation?" Daley said.

The Mayor said he knows some people wonder why he continues to pursue passage of gun reform legislation in the face of strong opposition from the NRA and other gun extremists.

"It's very simple. 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.