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Durbin, McCarthy push bills on gun ‘straw purchases,’ assault weapons ban

Sen. Dick DurbChicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy meet before press conference legislatitackling gun violence.  Friday January 25 2013. I

Sen. Dick Durbin and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy meet before a press conference on legislation tackling gun violence. Friday, January 25, 2013. I Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 27, 2013 6:12AM

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy joined forces with Sen. Dick Durbin on Friday to say he’s “positive” implementing gun trafficking legislation and an assault weapons ban in Chicago will get the city’s murder rate down.

One of two bills co-sponsored by Durbin targets “straw purchasing” — tacking on federal penalties to those who buy guns for criminals prohibited to do so themselves.

The bill toughens penalties for false statements on gun purchase documents and for transfers to prohibited purchasers that result in a gun’s use in violent criminal activity.

“We need to create a strong federal deterrent to stop straw purchasing. Our bill will do that,” Durbin said. “It’ll make straw purchasing a federal crime that can carry a penalty of up to 30 years if the straw purchaser knows that the gun will be used in a crime of violence. And it cracks down on those shady dealers who want to look the other way when they ought to know better.”

McCarthy said the gun used to kill 17-year-old Tyrone Lawson outside Chicago State University was purchased legally in another state, but somehow ended up on the streets of Chicago.

“There’s one recorded transfer on that firearm. It was purchased in 2001 in Texas by a person who we can find no connection to the city of Chicago,” McCarthy said. “Without some sort of accountability in those gun laws, without some sort of reasonable method of recording where those guns are, we’re never going to be able to stem the flow of those illegal firearms reaching the streets.”

McCarthy said he believes new gun legislation will decrease the city’s murder rate, which he said was down 28 percent in January, and down 16 percent in the last few months of 2012.

“I’m not confident, I’m positive,” McCarthy said. “...If you look at the places who have implemented strategies, like New York City ... by limiting gun ownership, by applying reasonable gun laws that will prevent illegal guns from getting on the streets, by having a reasonable mandatory minimum for illegal gun possession, the murder rate in New York City is the lowest in the country as far as major cities are concerned.”

The superintendent said more guns were seized in two Chicago districts in January — Englewood and Calumet — than in New York City, a city three times the size of Chicago.

Durbin also reintroduced the assault weapons ban on Thursday. The ban would prohibit the sale, manufacture or transfer and importation of 157 military style assault weapons. It would also ban high-capacity magazines.

Durbin sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold a hearing on President Obama’s plan to reduce gun violence on Wednesday.

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