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Zalewski advances gun crimes bill

Wednesday, Nov 6, 2013

* It’s possible we could see a vote soon on this bill

Rep. Michael Zalewski, a Chicago Democrat, said today that changes to his proposal to increase penalties for gun crimes have made the plan “narrowly tailored” and would bring down the cost of his proposal.

SB 1342 would require first-time offenders who commit an aggravated unlawful use of a weapon to serve 85 percent of a one-year sentence. Knowingly carrying a loaded gun in public without a Firearm Owners Identification Card can result in an aggravated unlawful use of a weapon charge. A felon or gang member would receive a four-year sentence. The proposal would also bar gun offenders from participating in some programs that can substantially shorten their sentences, such as a boot camp program for offenders.

Zalewski’s original proposal called for three years for a first-time offender and five years for felons and gang members. A House committee approved the bill, but Zalewski said he is still working to find the votes to pass it in the House. He faces opposition from the National Rifle Association over the required penalties for first-time offenders. “The sponsor has worked very hard to try to craft a bill, and we just haven’t been able to come to a meeting of the minds on this one issue,” said Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the NRA. He said lawmakers need to consider recent court rulings that upheld gun owners’ rights to carry firearms in public. “Carrying a gun is no longer, per se, a criminal offense.” […]

But the plan has support from Republicans who formerly served as prosecutors. Elmhurst Republican Rep. Dennis Reboletti helped Zalewski revise the proposal. “I think it’s a pretty thoughtful approach,” he said. Reboletti said is open to more negotiation. However, he said he thinks changes to sentences are needed to deter gun crimes and keep gang members from having a revolving door experience at IDoC only to return to the streets armed. “I don’t know what other alternatives there are.” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, who also worked as a prosecutor before coming to the legislature, has said he supports enhancing sentences for gun crimes.

* More

(T)he Department of Corrections would see its bulging population grow by 3,000 over the next decade, costing $713 million more for an agency that is operating with less money for more inmates already, agency chief of staff Bryan Gleckler said.

“We are out of public safety dollars,” argued John Maki, executive director of the prison monitoring group, the John Howard Association. “Where will this money come from? What will we not fund?”


And, as always, keep a close eye on our constantly updated live coverage post for updates on this and other legislation.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - reformer - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 11:43 am:

    It is remarkable to see opposition to harsher penalties from both sides of the political spectrum. It’s a good sign that more legislators finally realize the state can’t afford to keep increasing the prison pop.

  2. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 11:58 am:

    I think they should be punished, by aren’t there alternatives to locking them up, effectively put them completely on the public dole. Many are young and are/should be working. They will go from producing wealth to being complete wards of the public purse. And if you tell me that most of those likely to be arrested won’t be employed anyway, well, isn’t that a problem right there. Sounds like another initiative to lock up young minority males who can’t afford a lawyer to get them off. Meanwhile, as we well know, the gun-carrying and gun-misusing population is much broader than that–like the illegal drug users, that population includes a large number of our middle and upper class fellow citizens.

    An awful idea.

  3. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 1:06 pm:

    Sounds like another initiative to lock up young minority males who can’t afford a lawyer to get them off.

    Is that what you think defense attorneys do? Or is it simply to make sure they get a fair trial?

    It’s simple to avoid the penalties in this bill. Get yourself a CC card, or leave the gun at home.

  4. - Lobo Y Olla - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 1:06 pm:

    Sorry. Me above.

  5. - Pete - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 1:12 pm:

    What’s that mean? “Knowingly…”

    Laws need to focus on the locations where the guns are carried. There should be something similar to the sex-offender laws, cell phone use laws, and speeding laws. Ge caught carrying a firearm within 500 feet of a school without the FOI card, then you serve the year. High crime neighborhoods need safe zones.

    That has to be the start.

  6. - MrJM - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 2:02 pm:

    But the plan has support from Republicans who formerly served as prosecutors.

    They support a scheme that would strip discretion from judges (sentencing) and transfer it to prosecutors (charging)?

    I’m shocked!

    – MrJM

  7. - Keyser Soze - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 2:05 pm:

    Why not legalize and tax marijuana…..then the gangbangers will either have to find jobs, or move to Milwaukee.

  8. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 2:38 pm:

    Mr Soze, the discussion is about lawful gun carriage. Mr Soze, over here, Mr Soze. Mr Soze?

    Oh well.

  9. - Rod - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 2:59 pm:

    I have a problem with Rep Zalewski trying to pass himself off as a crime fighter. The article Rich linked to states Rep Zalewski is from Chicago, he is from Riverside, not Chicago. He did grow up on the southwest side of Chicago and attended Saint Rita High School. I do not think the 23rd district covers any part of the City itself under the current boundaries.

    Since Zalewski is a child of the Chicago Democratic Party machine in the 23rd ward it is easy to identify him as a Chicagoan. What is fascinating about IL House District 23 he represents is that Riverside which in part is in that District (also in the 41st and 8th districts) is 95.4% white in composition but the 23rd district itself is 84.6% minority in composition. One wonders whether it was carved out to cover Zalewski’s home and linked to solidly Democratic Hispanic communities that use to be the realm of retired state Rep. Robert Molaro who allegedly doubled his pension after one month working in Alderman Ed Burke’s office.

    I have never seen Rep Zalewski tied personally to any corruption allegations but curious stuff has gone on all around this young perky crime fighter. For example Carrie Zalewski, his wife got a $117,043 slot in 2010 on the five-member Illinois Pollution Control Board in 2010, but she is probably as qualified as the other members. Mike admitted to talking up his wife qualifications, there is not law against that is there. Mike’s dad, the Chicago Alderman, from January 1999 to March 2006 took in $125,875 in campaign contributions from City of Chicago employees. When asked whether he would support a law to prohibit employees from giving to their bosses or other political candidates, Zalewski said, “No … as long as there’s not a quid pro quo or threats.” In all, Ald. Zalewski got 337 contributions from city workers, including 139 from Streets and Sanitation workers according to the Chicago Reporter.

    I guess I have a problem with Zalewski acting the part of the crime fighter with this gun legislation when he was literally raised in the midst of the Democratic Party machine rife with corruption and conflicts of interest.

    When Rep Zalewski sponsors a bill to prohibit public employees from giving campaign contributions to their bosses or other political candidates then I can take him seriously as a crime fighter.

  10. - Lurker - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 3:53 pm:

    Legitimate question: will someone explain the process of determining “gang members” to me? How affiliated would they have to be?

  11. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 4:53 pm:

    I can’t define “gang member” but I’ll know one when I see them.

  12. - charles in charge - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 5:52 pm:

    @Lurker: Under current Illinois law, “streetgang” or “gang” or “organized gang” or “criminal street gang” means any combination, confederation, alliance, network, conspiracy, understanding, or other similar conjoining, in law or in fact, of 3 or more persons with an established hierarchy that, through its membership or through the agency of any member engages in a course or pattern of criminal activity. “Streetgang member” or “gang member” means any person who actually and in fact belongs to a gang, and any person who knowingly acts in the capacity of an agent for or accessory to, or is legally accountable for, or voluntarily associates himself with a course or pattern of gang-related criminal activity, whether in a preparatory, executory, or cover-up phase of any activity, or who knowingly performs, aids, or abets any such activity.

  13. - charles in charge - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 5:57 pm:

    “SB 1342 would require first-time offenders who commit an aggravated unlawful use of a weapon to serve 85 percent of a one-year sentence.”

    The above statement is no longer accurate. House Amendment #5, which earlier today the Judiciary Committee recommended be adopted to the bill, would remove the language providing for 85% truth-in-sentencing for first-offense Aggravated UUW.

  14. - railrat - Wednesday, Nov 6, 13 @ 5:57 pm:

    is a union picket line a “gang”? may not be criminal (til proven) ?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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