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No data to support sentencing claim

Friday, Apr 12, 2013

* WBEZ has an excellent story about how Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s demand that state legislators increase mandatory minimum sentences is not based on actual research. Emanuel, his police chief and others have pointed to New York City’s great success with reducing crime and claim that harsher mandatory minimums are a big reason for that success

The situation in New York — that’s one of the main “arguments” Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy have repeatedly made over the past few months as they’ve pushed their agenda on gun legislation..

“And just look at New York,” said McCarthy at a press conference this week. “It couldn’t be a clearer example of how to do this. The fact is, where these conditions exist, it’s working. I mean, what research do we need?”

But that’s not what the data shows

[Frank Zimring is] a professor of law at the University of California Berkeley and author of the book “The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and its Control.”

“The mandatory minimum punishments, is, if you study the New York experience, beside the point,” said Zimring.

Zimring studied 19 years of data tracking crime in New York. He says in 1990 the city had 2,250 murders. In 2012, it had 419. That’s an astonishing 80 percent drop in murder.

It’s that success that’s being used to justify the mandatory minimum sentences being proposed by Emanuel and McCarthy, but mandatory minimums weren’t signed into law in New York until late 2006.

“That’s after 90 percent of the crime reduction!” said Zimring. “I think that what’s going on is that the superintendent and the mayor in Chicago are under a ‘do something fast political pressure,’ and in my experience, at least, that’s never been good for penal codes.”

Go read the whole thing.

* Meanwhile, Rep. Brandon Phelps is not optimistic at all about the future of concealed carry negotiations

On Thursday, Phelps said he thinks both sides are as divided as they were at the beginning of the spring session, despite ongoing negotiations over several components of his bill, such as defining where guns couldn’t be carried and whether home-rule units could have local control.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be a compromise, to be honest,” Phelps said. “I just think we’re too far apart.”

* ISRA’s Richard Pearson talked about yesterday’s gun control rally

Pearson said a mandate to make people report lost or stolen guns “actually makes the victim the defendant” and “actually helps the criminal element.”

Pearson said everything gun control advocates want to do “puts a burden on the law-abiding gun owner and doesn’t do anything to punish the criminal.”

The gun control advocates’ real goal is “to nullify the Second Amendment, to stigmatize gun owners and to culturally isolate them so lawful firearm owners look like some kind of weird fringe group, when that’s not true. Actually, they (the gun control advocates) are the weird fringe group,” Pearson said.

I don’t quite see how reporting lost or stolen guns helps criminals. But I do believe that he’s at least partly right on some things. Focusing on generally law-abiding people when crafting gun control measures is often counter-productive. You end up with people prosecuted for harmless stuff. Focus on the violent criminals. Mayor Emanuel’s proposal to up their sentences may not be based on science, but at least it puts the focus where it belongs.

However, if yesterday’s polling is anywhere near accurate, then the gun control groups are solidly within the mainstream. They aren’t fringe by any means.

* Here’s something that could be useful

While gun regulation supporters rallied outside, House lawmakers inside the Statehouse voted in favor of a measure that would create a mental health first aid program in which certified trainers could teach members of the public how to recognize and help someone who could be dealing with a mental health disorder or addiction.

Backed by lawmakers who referenced the mental health condition of the shooter in Newtown, the bill passed 105-8. It now moves to the Senate.

Sponsoring Rep. Esther Golar, D-Chicago, told lawmakers to spread the word of this proposal through “town hall meetings and in your newsletters” because people need information about mental health issues in society.

* Related…

* VIDEO: Gov. Pat Quinn at gun control rally

* State police say they need more funding for concealed carry

* Heat continues on gun issues

* Sheila Simon: Let’s find common ground on guns

* Will County Board to take up concealed carry in May

* Illinois US Representatives and Gun Control

* Robin Kelly is sworn in: ‘Today is about a new beginning for the people of 2nd Congressional District’

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 11:36 am:

    - Focusing on generally law-abiding people -

    I don’t think this idea focuses on law-abiding people, it focuses on straw purchasers. I can’t wrap my head around the opposition to this, other than a lot of paranoia.

    Stiffer sentencing is why we’ve ended up with overcrowded prisons. I’ll give the mayor credit for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, but I think more steps need to be taken before we talk about mandatory minimums.

  2. - Demoralized - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    Can somebody please explain to me why exactly you would oppose mandating that lost or stolen guns be reported? Can somebody please explain to me how exactly that’s an effort to nullify the 2nd Amendment? You know, the rhetoric from both sides is just kooky. This does absolutely nothing for the cause when they oppose simple things like this.

  3. - MrJM - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    I think that what’s going on is that the superintendent and the mayor in Chicago are under a ‘do something fast political pressure,’ and in my experience, at least, that’s never been good for penal codes.

    Truer words were never spoken.

    – MrJM

  4. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 11:51 am:


    All Gun Control by definition focuses on Law abiding Citizens. Since felons do not legally purchase weapons. The opposition to the “Universal Background Check” has more to do with the way the bills are written. For instance Schumers bill says that if the two of us are friends and i buy a new pistol and i take it to your house to show you in order for me to let you hold it we have to drive to an FFL liscensee pay a fee wait for a background check and then you can hold it. To hand it back to ME we have to do the same thing. Ditto if we are in the middle of a bird hunt and your shotgun breaks. There are also privacy issues as in the Feds tracking who is buying what etc which is why the ACLU was against it as well. I would be all for it if there was some way to open up the NICS to Civilians to conduct the check as well as some common sense. Now as for Straw Purchasers i have no problem with stronger penalties on a state level. In fact since 15k felons and fugitives attempted to buy firearms (a Felony) and only 48 were prosecuted it appears the Feds Refuse to do it.

  5. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 11:57 am:


    Again it comes down to language. For instance it says reasonable time well that is then up to a prosecutor what a reasonable time is. What if someone steals a firearm but leaves everything else alone? You could potentially not know it is missing until you had need of it. I know in the cities this sounds unusual but i have different weapons to shoot Deer, turkey, and goose. Most hunters do. Once the season is over i clean them place them back in their safe and don’t touch them for the next 7 months. If you managed to steal my goose gun a week after season i wouldn’t know it for weeks or longer. Now you make it reasonable as in a misdemeanor first time serious time the third i can see it. Because very few of us would ever have that bad of luck.

  6. - walkinfool - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 11:58 am:

    The amount of people we throw into prison in order to appear “tough on crime”, and pretend that we are safer, is an absolute disgrace for this country. It will be the next big challenge for better government.

  7. - danlinn - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 12:03 pm:

    Mandatory minimums take away a judge’s power to look at each case individually when it comes to sentencing.

    Here is what Grover says;

    Grover Norquist
    “The benefits, if any, of mandatory minimum sentences do not justify this burden to taxpayers. Illegal drug use rates are relatively stable, not shrinking. It appears that mandatory minimums have become a sort of poor man’s Prohibition: a grossly simplistic and ineffectual government response to a problem that has been around longer than our government itself.”
    - Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform, written testimony submitted to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, House Committee on the Judiciary, July 14, 2009.

  8. - SO IL M - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 12:08 pm:

    I personally think that reporting stolen firearm is just good common sense. It never even occurred to me that someone wouldnt report a stolen firearm until the issue with the Carbondale Police Chief not reporting his pistol stolen came up. I could agree with a bill like that within reason. I also agree with increased mandatory minimum sentences for Felons in possesion of firearms. At least slow down the revolving door that keeps letting violent criminals back onto the streets. If they are in prison, they cant commit crimes on the street. I also would agree with holding someone accountable for providing a friearm to someone that was known to them to be a convicted felon, when that firearm is used to commit a crime. That would make them an accessory to that crime.

  9. - 47th Ward - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 12:09 pm:

    ===All Gun Control by definition focuses on Law abiding Citizens. Since felons do not legally purchase weapons.===

    By definition, any law only applies to law abiding citizens. Why should we have any laws? The criminals just won’t follow them, right?

  10. - danlinn - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 12:12 pm:

    Sorry, i meant to include this link too:

    “Though some are trying to revisit the state’s drug laws, proposals to make them even tougher keep coming.

    State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) called such measures “a hodgepodge mess of feel-good statutes and press release material” but acknowledged that he votes for them, too. No politician, he said, can afford to be branded soft on crime.”

    And here is a link to a timeline showing how we’ve used Mandatory Minimums for Drug Free Zones and our increased rate of prison population admissions:

  11. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 12:17 pm:

    The number of murders in Chicago has declined steadily over the years, but with an upstroke last year. The high was 970 in 1974. Since 1990:

    1990: 851[9]
    1991: 927[10]
    1992: 943[10]
    1993: 855[10]
    1994: 931[10]
    1995: 828[10]
    1996: 796[10]
    1997: 761[10]
    1998: 704[10]
    1999: 643[10]
    2000: 633[10]
    2001: 667[10]
    2002: 656[10]
    2003: 601[10]
    2004: 453[10]
    2005: 451[10]
    2006: 471[10]
    2007: 448[10]
    2008: 513[10]
    2009: 459[10]
    2010: 436[10]
    2011: 435[10]
    2012: 506[11]

  12. - HaroldVK - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 12:45 pm:

    Do you consider people who repeatedly have guns “stolen” to be law abiding citizens?

  13. - carbaby - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 12:50 pm:

    It is disengenuous to focus solely on mandatory minimum sentences and gun control measures as the solution to violence in Chicago without having a meaningful discussion and proposed plans/solutions to address the significant pockets of poverty in the City and the educational, housing and ecomonic inequalities that are so blatant.

  14. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 12:58 pm:

    Mason - Why doesn’t the NRA offer up language that cracks down on illegal straw purchasing while protecting gun owners that made an honest mistake? It would be a significant compromise that could help them get what they want, unless they don’t want straw purchasing to decline.

  15. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 12:59 pm:


    That would depend. There is a reason i said the first time misdemeanor. Now is it possible for someone to have repeated burglaries absolutely. Any legitimate Gun Owner who knows his stuff is stolen will report it if for no other reason then that to ensure Insurance pays for it. However it is possible to have one stolen and not know about it for a period of time and then run afoul of the law. It is the not reporting that i would say if it happens more than once there is something wrong.

    Let me ask you this? If you are a straw purchaser is it really hard to avoid the reporting law? For example i go to the Gun store buy 7-8 handguns. I park my car at Denny’s sit down order lunch. The felon i am selling the guns too comes up busts the window out of my beater and drives off. I report the weapons and the car stolen. I meet the Felon later he pays me for guns and the car business as usual as well as submitting to the Insurance. What are you going to nail the buyer on??

  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 1:01 pm:

    ===What are you going to nail the buyer on?===

    Probably nothing the first time it happens. Do that two or three or four or five times and the coppers are gonna start becoming suspicious.

    Try to come up with better arguments.

  17. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 1:13 pm:


    A lot of it i think has to do with two things in my humble opinion. 1. The feds have a monopoly on it now and do a sad job of prosecuting. The NRA is of the opinion before we sign new laws we should enforce the ones we already have.
    2. Tell me who they should work with in the state house? Seems like every proposal is panned if for no other reason then it comes from NRA. Take the School safety thing on the National. Even if you don’t agree with everything proposed the idea of trying to find ways to make schools more secure was common sense. Yet it was bashed repeatedly for weeks before the president proposed it himself.

    I personally would and those like me want to find things that will LEGITIMATELY stop the animals doing the killing without punishing the law-abiding. That balancing act is what causes the controversy.

  18. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 1:14 pm:


    They can become suspicious all they want but unless they witness a payoff or someone rolls over the straw buyer is clean.

  19. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 1:16 pm:

    Additional research shows that NYC’s success in reducing crime is directly related to an increase in the number of police officers.

    Other studies claim certain tactics, such as “stop and frisk”, have played a role in reducing crime.

    Not sure if mandatory minimums are all they’re cracked up to be in Rahm’s world.

  20. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 1:25 pm:


    As a side note Spent some time in Prison (working) There are two types of Criminals the Stupid ones and the scary smart ones. The Stupid ones don’t last and the scary smart ones well they don’t spend much time incarcerated.

  21. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 1:43 pm:

    - Tell me who they should work with in the state house? -

    I’m pretty sure if the NRA or ISRA asked Phelps to insert language into a concealed carry bill that also cracked down on straw purchasing, he’d add it in a heartbeat.

    As to the feds, who cares? If they’re not doing the job in Illinois, maybe we should.

  22. - Colossus - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 1:46 pm:

    ==They can become suspicious all they want but unless they witness a payoff or someone rolls over the straw buyer is clean.==

    Mason - Your approach to this issue is to defend straw purchasers? Because it looks to me like you’re standing up for them here, if I’m wrong I’m happy to be called out on it.

    Please, tell me directly, how will you stop people buying guns to sell them to people that we, as a society, have all agreed should not have access to firearms? Every gun used to kill someone in Chicago was purchased legally at some point in time, and the stats we have now indicate that theft from a legal owner is one of the least significant sources. Someone is buying guns and selling them to criminals, and you seem to be shockingly informed on how this is done. Please, instead of sitting in the peanut gallery, use that wealth of knowledge to help your fellow Americans instead of just throwing bombs and stickin’ it to the libs.

  23. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 1:48 pm:

    ===They can become suspicious all they want but unless they witness a payoff or someone rolls over the straw buyer is clean===

    If this happens more than a couple of times, you can prolly bet that a detective will be assigned.

  24. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 1:49 pm:

    Also, what Colossus said. Cheering on straw buyers ain’t kosher.

  25. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 2:09 pm:

    Rich and Colossus

    I am not cheering on Straw Purchasers. My point is that there is no Silver Bullet here. For instance Chicago is a big city many precincts move the theft around it becomes harder to catch. Have the car boosted in Gary etc. I have no love for Straw buyers which is why i don’t sell a weapon to anyone i have not known for years even though it is not illegal. You seem to confuse me trying to point out reality as cheering on straw purchasers. I actually think Straw purchasers may be the one place where Mandatory Minimums may have a great place. I say that because by definition most Straw purchasers do not have a history of crime. Intimidating a Career gang banger is practically impossible. Intimidating some college kid with a 10 yr minimum is a bit different.

    As for my wealth of knowledge no one would like my suggestions largely because i never learned to speak like a politician. There is no silver bullet. We have a certain advantage in IL with the FOID card. Just checked the back of mine the way i read it you basically cannot transfer to anyone without a FOID card and have to keep a record of both foids and serial for 10 yrs. This in my humble opinion makes for a very simple definition of illegal transfer of a firearm one almost impossible to run afoul on. So lets slap some mandatory Minimums on it. The 2 weapons i have transferred in the last 10 yrs have photocopies of both FOID’s and serial numbers in my Safety Deposit box.

    As for the shockingly informed part. I kept my ears open when working in a max prison heard a lot of things i really really wish i could have unheard.

  26. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 2:27 pm:


    BTW i am aware of the irony of advocating for a mandatory minimum on this particular story.

  27. - Colossus - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 3:00 pm:

    Mason -

    That’s great that you are a responsible gun owner. But the existence of straw purchasers shows that one can be a law abiding gun owner without being responsible - one does not necessitate the other. As the philosopher said, “With great power comes great responsibility,” I’m just asking for the responsibility to be enforced instead of presumed (despite decades of evidence that it is not exercised).

    re: sentencing - We are closing prisons because we and housing inmates in gyms because we can’t afford them. Wanna talk about taxes?

    Look, you and I have had this conversation before. And I’m sure you’ve had it a hundred times with other people, and it always ends the same way. Unless you’re going to actually, constructively, put forward an idea, you’re actively supporting the status quo. Common sense (and just about any poll you find) will tell you that the status quo is not acceptable to the majority of the citizens of this country.

  28. - Demoralized - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 3:08 pm:


    Sometime somebody is also going to have to explain to me this “law abiding citizen” argument as well. Should we get rid of all laws because they really crimp the style of law abiding citizens? The argument is silly.

  29. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 3:38 pm:


    A straw purchaser is not a law abiding gun owner. it is illegal to transfer a firearm to a felon so therefore committing the act of Straw buyer makes you a criminal. You may not have been caught and therefore have no record but a criminal you are.

    As for the sentencing equals more slots in prison notice i said one of the few places where i think it will work. I believe we need to readdress mandatory minimums across the board. We need more room for Violent offenders and less for idiots who want to wreck their own bodies. I consider Straw Buyers to be violent offenders. In order to be a Straw Buyer you have to have kept your nose clean right. Which means unlike the gangs that are ruining Chi-town you aren’t a hardened criminal who considers 10yrs in jail the price of doing business.

    The status quo as you say has actually been improving. It doesn’t seem like it in Chicago right now i will grant you. But 2009’s homicide rate was the lowest it has been since it looks like 1964 ish.

    As for a Constructive idea aren’t I basically advocating for more punishment on Straw buyers. That seems to be an area of agreement on both sides. The difference is i want some protections for those who run afoul of the law without criminal intent.

  30. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 3:50 pm:


    I suspect that that wouldn’t be your arguement in other arena’s. There is no doubt the Gov. could clamp down on crime and terrorism if they were to pass a law giving all law enforcement agencies unfettered access to all electronic communications. For instance look at the Patriot Act. Alternatively some people drive 100+ should all citizens be banned from possessing a car that exceeds 65 mph? At a certain point you have to prosecute the Criminals. I can end all Straw purchasers by throwing out the 2nd, 4th, and maybe the 5th but i think we can all agree that is a price we do not want to pay.

    The right to own a firearm is a constitutionally right. The same as the 1st or the 3-9th. Therefore the question for every piece of legislation is does it infringe on that right. According to the text of the amendment “shall not be infringed” this is a high standard. By the 14th this was incorporated down to the states which means the states now have to use the same ruler.

  31. - 47th Ward - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 4:02 pm:

    MB, lobbyists have to register with the state and pay a fee each year. That doesn’t infringe on our 1st Amendment right to petition the government just as keeping a list of gun owners and the firearms they own doesn’t infringe upon the 2nd Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

    Every firearm manufactured in the US has a unique serial number. We could create a registry to dramatically decrease the incidence of straw purchasers/illegal transers without infringing on anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights.

  32. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 4:22 pm:


    Well i thank you in being honest in what your goal is. But isn’t requiring citizens to turn in a registry of private property a violation of privacy?

    The problem with your arguement is the fact that no one over the last 20 yrs can say they have never had cause to distrust the federal government. I for one would oppose any registry when registries have been tried they resulted in confiscation see Germany, UK, and Australia etc. Two of those were democracies one a dictatorship at the time.

    We will have to disagree on the infringement of that. I suspect we will never have to see it come to fruition since there is 0 political will for that right now. I doubt there is a change in that anytime soon.

  33. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 12, 13 @ 4:26 pm:

    47th, Collosus, Rich

    I have to go it has been nice speaking with all of you. It is nice to speak to people who can get past the Gun=Bad bias and any law=bad and reasonably debate. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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