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Emanuel: Gun control “weak link” in Chicago’s public safety chain

Updated: July 10, 2013 2:55AM

Calling gun control the “weak link” in Chicago’s public safety chain, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday renewed his pitch for stiffer sentencing, background checks before gun purchases and a revised and strengthened assault weapons ban.

The mayor’s political call to arms follows a Fourth of July weekend bloodbath that saw the Chicago Sun-Times tally 38 separate shooting incidents from Wednesday evening through Sunday afternoon, including 10 homicides.

It also came hours before the General Assembly overrode Gov. Pat Quinn’s amendatory veto of a bill legalizing the carrying of concealed weapons.

Illinois will no longer be the only state in the nation that does not permit gun owners to carry their weapons in public places. Quinn’s now-rejected tweaks would have placed limits on the number of guns and the amount of ammunition gun owners could carry and banned concealed carry in public places where alcohol is served.

Emanuel has bemoaned the Illinois Supreme Court ruling that forced the Legislature’s hand on concealed-carry.

On Tuesday, the mayor urged the House and Senate to stay in session and address Chicago’s unique needs when it comes to gun laws.

“Gun control . . . is the weak link in the chain of public safety for the city of Chicago,” the mayor said.

“Our police are doing an effective job. They need to do better. But, they are doing an effective job. We are investing in our kids by making sure they have the type of after-school programs and summer jobs at an unprecedented level. Each year, we’re growing each of those investments for our kids to be in a safe, secure area. We also challenge our parents to do the right thing. . . . The city of Chicago, to further drive its shooting and homicide rate down, needs a number of things.”

Emanuel went on to identify his top three priorities: a revised and strengthened assault weapons ban expected to be approved by the City Council next week; a comprehensive background check prior to gun purchases and a three-year minimum sentence for gun crimes with a requirement that those convicted serve 85 percent of their time.

The mayor noted that there were more than 100 cases during the first six months of this year where either the victims or perpetrators of gun crimes would have been in prison if those stiffer sentences had been in place.

“The most recent case was the individual who shot the five-year-old in the park. If we had a three-year minimum and an 85 percent truth in sentencing, just like New York City has, that person would have been behind bars rather than out shooting into a crowd in one of our parks,” the mayor said.

Referring to concealed carry, Emanuel said, “They tried to create a bill that represented the whole state. I think it’s essential . . . they understand that Chicago is different than Downstate. And we had a stark reminder of that this weekend. So, we have to have a way to protect our citizens. That doesn’t mean just on concealed carry. I would hope that the Legislature goes back to work and gives us a three-year minimum for anybody committing a gun crime.”

The July 17 special City Council meeting is only the second since Emanuel took office. The other was called to approve a new Chicago ward map.

This time, aldermen will gather to consider the mayor’s companion plans to update and strengthen Chicago’s assault weapons ban and impose stiffer penalties for gun crimes committed near schools, on buses and along “Safe Passage” routes.

Emanuel is under the gun politically to safeguard 30,000 Chicago Public School students impacted by nearly 50 school closings, the largest public school consolidation in the nation’s history.

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