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Rahm Emanuel proposes $65 per-gun fee and registry

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy left First Deputy Supt. Al Wysinger leave press conference after announcement statewide gun-titling legislatiproposal Kids

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, left, and First Deputy Supt. Al Wysinger leave a press conference after the announcement of a statewide gun-titling legislation proposal at the Kids Off the Block community center, 11627 S. Michigan Ave., Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 11, 2012 8:51AM



Illinois handgun owners would be required to register their weapons with the state — and pay a $65-per-gun registration fee — under a mayoral plan proposed Thursday to arm police with the information they need to solve crimes and reduce illegal firearm transfers.

Even as he picked up the gun control mantle from former Mayor Richard M. Daley, Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged that he’s facing an uphill battle.

It comes at a time when the National Rifle Association and its allies among Downstate lawmakers are making a major push for concealed carry legislation. Illinois is the only state in the nation that does not allow its residents to carry concealed weapons.

But Emanuel, who helped pass the Brady Bill during his days in the Clinton White House, said he’s willing to wage the tough fight if that’s what it takes to make Chicago streets safer.

“I didn’t go into it because I thought it was a slam dunk. You don’t need me for that. You don’t need my political capital for the easy things. You use your political capital for the tough things that are the right things to do,” the mayor said during a news conference at a Roseland youth center across the street from a memorial to the victims of youth violence.

“This is a tough issue politically. But I want you to measure that against the toughness of that memorial [across] the street.”

Emanuel noted that 56 percent of the guns used in Chicago crimes were purchased in Illinois, but outside the city. That leaves what he called a “gaping hole” that criminals are exploiting.

“We need to close that hole, shut it down, so that the hard work of the law enforcement community, the hard work of our community groups, the hard work of our faith-based community, the hard work of our parents [doesn’t go to waste and] our laws are backing them up and keeping their kids safe, rather than making them more vulnerable,” the mayor said.

“You already buy a title for a car. You already buy a title for a motorcycle. You buy a title for a boat. I’m not asking you to do anything you don’t do already.”

Todd Vandermyde, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, could not be reached for comment on the mayor’s proposal.

It will be co-sponsored in the state House by State Rep. Rosemary Mulligan (R-Park Ridge), the mayor said, in hopes that will set the stage for bi-partisan support.

Former Mayor Daley spent 22 years beating his head against the wall on gun control issues, only to be stymied repeatedly in Springfield.

In 2005, Daley scored a rare victory when the General Assembly agreed to close a loophole by requiring anyone who buys a firearm at a gun show to pass a criminal background check.

On Thursday, Emanuel picked up where his predecessor left off.

His proposal would require all handgun owners to obtain a certificate of registration from the State Police for every handgun they own — at a cost of $65-per-weapon — and to renew that registration every five years.

They would be required to provide: their name, address and telephone number; the manufacturer of the gun, its model type and serial number; and the date and source of the purchase.

Whenever a handgun is sold, the seller would be required to report the sale to the State Police “no less than 48 hours prior to delivery.” Handgun buyers would have 20 days to file for a new certificate of registration. Anyone caught carrying or possessing an unregistered handgun would face a Class 2 felony.

A portion of the $65 fee would be used to implement the statewide registry. The rest would be used to improve two public safety data basis: LEADS and the National Instant Criminal Background Check Systems (NICS).

Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said Emanuel’s proposal to impose a per-handgun registration fee is “preposterous,” illegal and going nowhere in the General Assembly.

“It’s a civil right [to own a gun]. You don’t have to pay for a civil right. It’s like a poll tax,” he said.

“He’s trying to limit handguns for criminals and he’s attacking law abiding citizens. There are 1.4 million firearms owners in this state and he wants to tax them all $65. It’s crazy.”



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