Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s effort to toughen state law for illegal use of a weapon is being watered down as the lead sponsor tries to win approval of legislation aimed at helping crack down on Chicago’s violence.
Out of the bill is a provision that first-time gun offenders serve a mandatory three-year prison sentence, a major concern of opponents who worried that a careless mistake could put an otherwise law-abiding citizen behind bars.
This isn’t a loss for Emanuel, despite the implications of that lede. It’s how things normally get done in any legislative body. The object is to pass a bill. The way one passes a bill is to compromise. Mayor Daley refused to compromise on his gun bills and as a result he rarely passed any.
Emanuel wanted a bill to pass. It could now pass, although opposition remains intense…
Zalewski, a Democrat from Riverside, still heard loud criticism from a number of African-American lawmakers who argued for rehabilitation programs over incarceration.
White liberals also remain opposed, as does Toni Preckwinkle.
* Hizzoner’s take…
“Dramatic increase in penalties,” Emanuel said. “So, compared to what’s on the books that was referred to by gang members as a joke, that is real stiff penalties with a clear message that you’re gonna serve time for doing the crime.”
He’s right, and he may actually pass a gun bill today (or when they return).
…Adding… I’m hearing that the governor’s liaisons are working against the bill today. No surprise there. Quinn doesn’t want that thing on his desk, for obvious political reasons.
…Adding more… The House has adjourned. So no gun vote yet, but expect one when they return.
.…Adding still more… From an advisory…
The House Black Caucus will hold a press conference in the television conference room Thursday, November 07, 2013 at ll:00 a.m. The topic of the press conference will be mandatory minimum sentencing.
This is what the press conference was about…
Black members in the Illinois House have used a procedural measure to stop an anti-crime bill aimed at guns on city streets.
*** UPDATE *** The House adjourned from its fall session shortly afterward. […]
[Rep. Ken Dunkin] requested he be provided information on the bill’s effect, including its cost and impact on the prison system. The Department of Corrections did not file that information.
Zalewski could have asked the House to rule the information inapplicable — but it likely wouldn’t have worked.
*** UPDATE 2 *** From the mayor’s office…
“I am disappointed that the opponents of this legislation have chosen political stunts over peoples’ safety to delay passage of a bill that will strengthen penalties and provide a deterrent for serious gun crimes. Criminals are the only winners when procedural games are used to defer a bill that clearly has the necessary votes in both chambers of the General Assembly. When this legislation passes, it will be another important step in our comprehensive strategy to reduce violence, which includes strong and involved parenting, prevention programs for at-risk youth, policing strategies that focus resources in high-crime areas and appropriate punishments. Illegal guns drive violence and we must continue working to strengthen penalties for the dangerous criminals who are carrying illegal, loaded weapons in our communities while at the same time reducing sentences on non-violent crime.
I thank Representative Michael Zalewski and Senator Tony Munoz for their leadership on this bill, and look forward to congratulating them once it clears these legislative obstacles for a vote and eventually becomes law.”