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It’s never as simple as it looks

Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013

* From a Tribune editorial

[Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy’s] point: Illinois needs stricter gun laws, and it needs to enforce its gun laws, to ensure that criminals know possessing a gun on the street carries dire consequences.

Here’s the frustrating part: A bill to do just that went nowhere in the legislature this year. The bill, introduced by state Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Chicago, would have set stiffer sentences for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and for gun crimes committed by felons. It would have required that offenders serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.

McCarthy, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel supported the bill. Had it been in place last year, Champ would have been sent to prison, not boot camp, for running around his neighborhood with a loaded gun. […]

This spring, the General Assembly was intensely preoccupied on legislation to permit the concealed carry of firearms. Zalewski’s bill to crack down on illegal gun possession got out of a House committee but then languished. Some Democrats opposed the stiff mandatory sentencing requirements, and some Republicans refused to back it before they passed a concealed carry law. Zalewski tells us he didn’t have the votes to pass his bill. […]

So here we are. Another national embarrassment for Chicago. Another senseless crime. Thirteen people wounded. The trauma extends well beyond those 13 people. It extends to their friends, to their families, to their neighbors, to everyone who has to think twice about whether he or she will catch a random bullet when gangbangers go after each other. […]

Zalewski said he plans to reintroduce his bill during the fall veto session. It should pass without a single “no” vote. Not … one.

* But Todd Vandermyde of the NRA posted a couple of notes in comments yesterday about that bill. I’ve fixed most of the typos to make it easier to read

We offered the City an 85% 3-year term on Felons in possession last session, we were turned down because they wanted the whole thing to include those without a carry permit when we didn’t have one.


We as the NRA could work on and support the “felons in possession” issue. The Cook County State’s Attorney often tosses the Aggravated UUW or UUW as part of the plea deal for whatever reason.

I tried to pare down the issue to “bad guys with guns.” But they were so invested in the Plaxico Burress version they didn’t seem to care.

* I asked Rep. Zalewski for a response…

As I mentioned to the Chicago Tribune, a number of members expressed concern last Spring about voting for HB2265 in light of the ongoing conceal carry debate.

I, as the sponsor, had numerous constructive conversations with those members, along with Todd Vandermyde, chief legislative liaison for the NRA, in an effort to see if those members’ concerns could be addressed in the bill.

Unfortunately, there was never a meeting of the minds. As is my practice, I will continue to look for common ground in an effort to get the bill passed.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 10:08 am:

    One crux of our conflict:

    We need to be enforcing these gun laws, which means more people in prison.

    We are closing prisons, leaving less room to incarcerate individuals who violate the law.

    There are other issues, of course (drug laws, etc.), but this seems to foreshadow a lack of broader vision and planning on the part of leadership.

  2. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 10:09 am:

    I don’t understand what CC had to do with stiffer penalties for felons committing gun crimes. To me this is a no brainer. I guess I shouldn’t be so dense when I say I don’t understand because when the GA talks about anything to do with guns they all go crazy and can’t do something easy like this.

  3. - teddy salad - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    Rep. Zalewski and, believe it or not, the Tribune are both correct. This should pass without a single no vote.

  4. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 10:33 am:

    The City of Chicago amongst other things neeeds more cops on the streets…after reading these posts today, I can’t understand why people can’t see the high cost to society as whole for the “unalienable” right to carry a handgun…

  5. - Todd - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 10:42 am:

    D– i had a response, then my browser went down so let me try again.

    The problem with the City is they wanted an a cross the Board mandatory 3 years for people like Scotty Pippen. People who were doing nothing more than carrying for self defense. They wanted to do away with the two tiered misdemeanor system and everyone gets 3 years.

    From day one, we talked about felons andthose who are barred from having guns. We can even toss iin non-felons, where there is a charge of PWID. But that is not what the bill was about. It was about aNew York style grab everybody and lock them up at a time when there was no carry permit.

    All you have to do is look at the guy that spent 14 months in county and ask if that is the kinda guy that should do 85% of 3 years? Is Scotty Pippen the kind of guy that should do 3 years?

    All you have to do is go look at the cases of Diggins and Holmes to see how vindictive and anti-gun cook county has been,mush less the story Rich highlitghted above.

    And we don’t really need a new law, there was the federal progam of project exile where the type of people we are talking about can get 5 years in the federal system.

    They renamed it project safe neighborhoods here but we don’t hear about it much.

    I don’t blame Rep. zalewski, he was just carrying the bill for the city,and the city wanted what the city wanted that is there MO at the capitol. But as pointed out above, and by Fox 32 that was not the law they were seeking.

  6. - MK - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 11:00 am:

    Here we go again with these bills that are EXPENSIVE and will do NOTHING AT ALL to curb actual violence. What mandatory minimums have succeeded in giving us in IL and across the country are prisons bursting at the seams. If legislators want to actually DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE they’ll work on bringing living wage jobs to Chicago and to the entire state. NO TO MORE mandatory minimums and especially to a gun law that is only going to succeed in locking up more people who will come out of prison worse than when they went in. Legislators should continue to resist these types of useless and ultimately detrimental laws.

  7. - anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 11:04 am:

    Pretty much every “fact” put forward in favor of this bill has been dead wrong.

    I notice the Trib editorial board, those stalwart guardians of our* pocketbooks, doesn’t happen to mention the price tag on this ridiculous mandatory minimum. Deficit hawks and pension hawks to the bitter end. Except for when we’re talking about a ginormous capital outlay with no clear benefit of any kind.

    No “no” votes! Illinois is rolling in it! Budget crisis: over!

    *our = we oligarchs

  8. - anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    $394,195,572 - The total increased per capita
    cost to the DOC had these policies been in place from 2010 through 2012.

  9. - MrJM - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 11:19 am:

    Mandatory minimums are great because they require no thought! And thoughtless laws are always the bestest laws, right?

    – MrJM

  10. - anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 11:28 am:

    So true, MrJM.

    Can’t wait to see all the “equal justice” that starts raining down when downstate prosecutors are faced with the choice of letting a good ol boy with an unloaded weapon locked up in the glove box go scot-free or sending him to serve 85% of 3 years because Rahm Emanuel said it was important.

  11. - Kevin Highland - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 11:32 am:

    I’m not sure any amount of mandatory sentencing minimums or improvements to the economy and living wages will stop those who think with the mentality of the criminals.

    To them, there is perception of power, glory, reputation and “easy money” to be earned. The punishments haven’t stopped the criminals and a “living wage” still wouldn’t provide enough money for those who want to live large.

    Perhaps legalizing some of the illegal drugs will stop some of the crime but the ones who want to be criminals will follow what they think is the easy money.

    Not sure what the solution is, I’m sure “Project Exile/Safe Neighborhoods” would slow some of the less eager ones down but other stupid criminals will most likely step up to take there place.

  12. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 11:36 am:

    ===will stop those who think with the mentality of the criminals===

    If Bryon Champ was still in prison for that gun crime, he wouldn’t have been shot and then retaliated.

    Mandatory minimums are, in many ways, quite goofy.

    But convicted felons without a legal right to possess a loaded gun should get real time when they’re busted with one.

    Lumping all mandatory minimums together and dismissing them all as ridiculous is… well… just as ridiculous as some mandatory minimum laws, and for the same reason.

  13. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 11:47 am:


    Thanks for the response. I wasn’t directing my comments at anything in particular. I understand that any gun bill is going to be a magnet for Chicago (and others) to attach other goofy things. I’m just disappointed that even things that I think everybody agrees on get mired down with things that are obviously not acceptable to all parties involved.

  14. - anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 11:50 am:

    We already have mandatory minimums, effective for crimes committed in 2011.

    Felon in possession of even an unloaded weapon even in their own home carries 2-10 years IDOC.

    So why exactly does Bryon Champ need his own piece of statewide legislation?

    The only thing dumber than mandatory minimum sentencing is legislating by anecdote.

    If Cook County can’t successfully prosecute people under current mandatory minimums, the problem isn’t the sentence options being too low.

  15. - anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 11:54 am:

    Recall, too, that Bryon Champ was not even the assault weapon shooter, though claiming that the incident is all about him certainly suits Superintendent McCarthy’s purposes.

  16. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 12:42 pm:

    === But convicted felons without a legal right to possess a loaded gun should get real time when they’re busted with one ===


  17. - bored now - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 1:28 pm:

    i seriously doubt that the nra cares one bit about the violence in chicago (except the whites who might feel threatened). minorities killing minorities isn’t exactly high on their agenda. after all, guns don’t kill people…

  18. - RonOglesby - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 2:08 pm:

    @bored now

    Uh, great discussion addition. thanks for elevating the discussion with your wisdom.

  19. - Logic not emotion - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    bored now: That is an underserved and unjustified low blow. The NRA does care about violence, its membership includes many minorities and many of its members live within Chicago. If anyone deserves to get the label of not caring about violence, it is the Chicago politicians who blame guns instead of trying to address the core issues.

    A firefighter will tell you to spray the base of the fire and not to waste your extinguisher on the smoke or flames. You need to cut off either the fuel, ignition or oxygen to stop it. In this context, guns are sometimes the tool; but there is a never ending supply of various tools that can be effective. What does the city need to do to cut off the fuel, ignition source or oxygen for this particular “fire” of violence?

  20. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 2:51 pm:

    bored now is basically a troll. Easy way to tell. He speaks in bumper sticker slogans and he doesn’t engage in civil debate.

  21. - John Boch - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 3:22 pm:

    Rich Miller wrote: “But convicted felons without a legal right to possess a loaded gun should get real time when they’re busted with one.”

    We don’t need another law for that.

    It’s already on the books at the Fed level: 5 years for felon in possession of a firearm.

    Let’s start enforcing it, especially for those bad news guys like the banger in this story.

    Todd’s just trying to make sure that people like Hambrick and Pippen don’t get set off to prison for three years… they aren’t the problem, despite what Garry McCarthy said yesterday.

  22. - reformer - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 3:35 pm:

    == $394,195,572 - The total increased cost to the DOC had these policies been in place from 2010 through 2012.==

    Budget hawks have a huge blind spot when it comes to the cost of corrections. Legislators have been cutting educating funding, kicking poor people off Medicaid, and reducing social services. Yet they vote for tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars in increased spending on corrections with mandatory minimums.

  23. - Todd - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 3:42 pm:

    @ D –

    I was just trying to explain what happened. The City appears to be changing their tune right now. If so, I welcome them and will work with them. We could pass a bill that gets the Champ issue in a heartbeat during veto — felons in possession. We could then go to work on all the other nuances to be addressed. Like Possession along with PWID. There are a few other things that come to mind I would be willing to put on the table for them.

    It’s not just about saying NO to a gun bill. But getting something that goes after the problem. And if McCarthy says there are 100 cases of felon in possession that should have been behind bars, be glad to draft that amendment and file it next week.

  24. - siriusly - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 4:04 pm:

    “I’ve fixed most of the typos to make it easier to read…” nice.

  25. - Mason born - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 4:06 pm:

    I agree completely that most mandatory sentencing laws are a waste of resources and result in petty criminals getting time they don’t deserve. That being said if you are a felon and you are caught with a firearm i have no problem with a mandatory sentence. As a felon you know you cannot have a gun. If you have a gun there is no “oh i only had enough to get high” excuse.

    Now as other posters have noted there are laws on the books for mandatory sentencing mayhaps the Trib and McCarthy should be focusing their ire on those prosecuters who choose to plea down these gun cases. All the minimums in the world do no good if the prosecuters aren’t charging the crooks under that law.

  26. - Mason born - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 4:11 pm:


    –I’m just disappointed that even things that I think everybody agrees on get mired down with things that are obviously not acceptable to all parties involved.–

    I think we all share that sentiment. Seems like we should start with the simple things. Maybe after we have all learned to work together without Peeing in each others Cornflakes we’ll be able to get some of these serious issues worked out like adults.

  27. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 5:15 pm:

    ===It’s already on the books at the Fed level===

    Yeah, but the state’s attorney can’t prosecute under federal statutes. “State’s” is the operative word there.

  28. - anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 6:21 pm:

    “We could pass a bill that gets the Champ issue in a heartbeat during veto — felons in possession.”

    I’m sure Anita will be very pleased that you plan to help her cover her rear end, Todd. But I wouldn’t be quite so sure about how easy it will be to pass that bill.

  29. - Todd - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 9:07 pm:

    tell me why anon. . .

  30. - Shaved - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 9:12 pm:

    Judges in Cook County need to enforce the laws on the books. 400 thousand bond for Car jacking a policeman? What judge issued that? I want to talk about this.

  31. - Mr. Wonderful - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 9:44 pm:

    88%of murderers have previous criminal records, 75% of murder victims have previous criminal records. It’s obvious they learn nothing in jail. Why all the sputtering over a bill that is nothing but window dressing?

  32. - Demoralized - Thursday, Sep 26, 13 @ 9:44 am:

    ==75% of murder victims have previous criminal records==

    What in the world does that have to do with anything? You have a criminal record and have learned nothing so you get murdered? That is asinine.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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