(Editor's Note: The following is a Feb. 13, 2003, press release issued by the office of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley)
Daley Renews Call For "Realistic, Common-sense" Gun Legislation Bills Would Ban Assault Weapons, Limit Purchases to One Handgun per Month
Mayor Richard M. Daley announced today that a package of bills aimed at improving neighborhood safety by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals will be introduced in the Illinois General Assembly.
"As I have argued for many years, both in Springfield and in Washington, it is much too easy to obtain a gun in our society," the Mayor said at a news conference at Central Police Headquarters.
"We need realistic and common-sense state gun laws to reduce our murder rate and keep our neighborhoods safe ... As long as violence is driven by guns, we will do everything in our power to end their easy availability."
Noting that the number of crimes in Chicago decreased last year for the eleventh straight year, the Mayor acknowledged that, "too many people in our city still live with the threat of violence - especially guns, gangs and drugs. And that is unacceptable."
Even though there were 285 fewer murders committed last year than in 1985 in Chicago, "one murder is one too many."
He pointed out that 79 percent of last year's murders were committed with guns, while guns were involved in 7,190 aggravated assaults and batteries, many of which "were almost as devastating as murder, because they left their victims crippled for life."
The Mayor's legislation calls for:
Ban the sale of semi-automatic, military-style assault weapons, as well as high-capacity magazines. "These aggressive weapons are not needed for hunting or target shooting. Their only purpose is to mow down large numbers of people," he said.
Restricting handgun purchases to one per person per month. "This is aimed directly at the straw purchasers who buy guns in bulk for criminal street gangs."
Closing the gun-show loophole, which allows people to avoid a background check if they buy a gun at a gun show.
Requiring gun dealers and manufacturers to provide the police with sample bullets and cartridges - or digital images - before a gun is sold. The "gun fingerprints" would help the police trace bullets to the guns that fired them.
State licensing of gun dealers, combined with a state database of gun information. This would enable police to quickly trace guns found at crime scenes and to keep disreputable people out of the gun business, the Mayor said.
Increasing penalties for having a secret compartment in a vehicle.
Adding indentifiers to the state Firearm Owners Identification Card and requiring State Police to do an annual background check on FOID owners.
Increasing the waiting period for taking possession of a handgun from three days to ten, to allow more time for the background check and a longer cooling-off period.
The Mayor acknowledged that many of the bills have failed to pass in previous General Assemblies.
"But that is no reason to give up," he said. "We have a new governor this year, and a number of new legislators. More and more people, including gun owners, are becoming aware of the need for reasonable gun regulations to protect the safety of the public.
"On an emotional issue like guns, progress is not made overnight. It requires sustained effort, often over a period of years. So we intend to keep pushing on this issue. And if some of our bills fail this year, we will be back next year, and the year after that.
"It will take some time, but we are going to win this fight for safer neighborhoods."
The bills are being sponsored by state Senators Tony Munoz, Don Harmon, John Cullerton, James Meeks, Mattie Hunter and Jacqui Collins, and Representatives Eddie Acevedo, Willie Delgado, Harry Osterman, Deborah Graham, Art Turner and Jim Brosnahan.