* 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.
(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.