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Emanuel, Preckwinkle team up on tougher gun rules, sentences

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle Mayor Rahm Emanuel .  FILE PHOTO | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Mayor Rahm Emanuel . FILE PHOTO | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

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Updated: February 14, 2013 6:44AM



Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to broaden the requirement for reporting the loss, theft, sale or transfer of firearms to all gun owners in all of Cook County and double the jail time for an array of gun violations to stop the bloodbath on Chicago streets.

The latest in a string of Chicago-only gun control ordinances — and companion legislation that would impose a first-ever reporting requirement in Cook County — was hastily drawn after an assault weapons ban stalled during the lame-duck session of the Illinois General Assembly.

After 506 homicides in 2012 and more of the same during the opening days of the new year, Emanuel said he was determined to stretch the legal limits of his local authority to prod Springfield into action.

Only time will tell whether the tag-team approach with Cook County will succeed in stopping the flow of illegal guns into Chicago. The ordinance would require all firearms owners — not just the holders of city firearms permits — to report the loss, theft, destruction, sale or transfer of a firearm to both the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County Sheriff’s office.

Violators would face up to six months in jail. That’s double the jail time for a reporting requirement that now applies only to permit holders in Chicago.

For the first time, Cook County would impose a similar reporting requirement.

Emanuel also wants to double the maximum jail time to six months for: possession of a firearm without a permit; possession of assault weapons and other firearms that cannot be registered in Chicago, and for sale or possession of high-capacity magazines and metal-piercing bullets.

David Spielfogel, a senior adviser to the mayor, said the countywide reporting requirement is pivotal.

“There’s no one step that can solve the problem, but this is an important first step to make sure we can track crime guns. Anything we can do to crack down on crime guns is gonna have an impact” on the number of murders and shootings, he said.

“We see lost or stolen as a common excuse. It makes it hard to follow the track ... and isolate gun runners supplying guns on Chicago streets. This changes the requirement. You can no longer use lost or stolen as an excuse. It expands the requirement, enhances the penalties and creates a countywide system, so we can have a broader impact. They have nothing right now” in the way of a reporting requirement.

Spielfogel described the mayor’s ordinance as the “first step of many” that would be taken in the coming months to stop the violence on Chicago streets that became a national media obsession in 2012.

“As we’re pushing the federal government on the assault weapons ban and large-clip ban and pushing the state, we’ve got to keep moving on the city level,” he said

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle plans to introduce her companion legislation at Wednesday’s County Board meeting, according to Preckwinkle’s spokesman Kristen Mack.

It would require firearms owners to report the make, model and serial number of lost, stolen, sold, transferred or destroyed firearms to the sheriff within 48 hours and empower the sheriff to share that information with his local law enforcement counterparts. Violators would face a $1,000 fine.

Preckwinkle’s decision to join forces with Emanuel to stop the flow of guns pouring into Chicago could help mend fences between the two powerful politicians.

Last month, Preckwinkle delivered a blistering critique of City Hall’s performance on education and crime, Chicago’s two most intransigent problems.

The former South Side alderman bemoaned the city’s “miserable education system” and said Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy believe the solution to Chicago’s never-ending violence is to “just arrest everybody.”

“Clearly this mayor and this police chief have decided the way in which they’re going to deal with the terrible violence that faces our community is just arrest everybody,” Preckwinkle said then as she reflected on her first two years in office.

“I don’t think in the long term that’s going to be successful. I think we’re going to have to figure out how to have interventions that are more comprehensive than just police interventions in the communities where we have the highest rates of crime.”

Chicago’s latest gun law was rushed into place in 2010 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Chicago’s 28-year-old handgun ban.

Last summer, a federal judge shot down the section used to deny a man a gun permit because of a prior misdemeanor conviction. The judge ruled that section “unconstitutionally void for vagueness” and said it violated the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment.

At Emanuel’s request, aldermen approved a re-write that would permanently bar anyone who has been convicted of a felony violent crime and impose a five-year ban on anyone convicted of a misdemeanor violent crime.

The latest changes are tailor-made to follow the legislative wish-list McCarthy has articulated ever since Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and shot 20 children and six adults after murdering his own mother.

McCarthy has argued that his officers would continue “drinking from a fire hose” until Illinois: bans assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; requires gun owners to report lost, stolen or transferred firearms; mandates criminal background checks before every single gun sale and imposes mandatory minimum penalties “sufficient to deter people” from carrying illegal firearms.

“We need those five things. Not just assault weapons. Not just high-capacity magazines. We need all of it,” McCarthy said on that day.

Noting that Chicago Police recover nine guns for every one recovered in New York City, he said, “That’s insanity, folks.”

Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), the mayor’s City Council floor leader, has acknowledged that the new ordinance would likely draw another court challenge.

“It’s the art of going to the end without going over the edge. ... It’s nuanced pretty well,” he said.

“Obviously, if the state and federal government were to step into this in a big way, they could save a lot of time and energy that municipalities spend trying to do what states and the federal government have been unwilling to do.”



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