Chicago’s Top Cop Bangs Head on Wall: I think that makes a better headline than the “Opposition at Capitol stalls Momentum of Chicago Gun Crime Bill” that appeared in the Chicago Tribune.
The Chicago Gun Crime Bill may go down in history as one of the most contentious bills of all time. It appears nobody likes it except Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and for a change Johnson may be on the right side of this one.
The facts are with 4,368 people shot in Chicago last year, and an upward tick so far this year with over 500, Chicago’s violent crime rate is out of control. It’s so bad that recently, when there was an eight day stretch with no one being shot, it made the front page of the Chicago Sun Times. Think about that for a moment – a city where its front page news that no one was shot. Welcome to Chicago.
Currently, the sentencing guidelines judges must follow for repeat gun felons calls for a range of three to 14 years. The proposed bill seeks seven to 14 years. The one thing everyone agrees upon is they don’t like it.
It is difficult to complain about a law that puts a repeat felony gun offender behind bars for a longer time. Well, it would be difficult anywhere other than Illinois where there is an on-going war between Republicans and Democrats over the state budget that taints everything that hits the legislature’s floor.
Adding to the complexity, the conservative faction objects to the inclusion of drug crimes in the bill suggesting they should be the subject of a separate bill. On the other side of the aisle the Democrats predictably complain it is too tough on minorities. The downstate Democrats, staunchly pro-Second Amendment hunters, generally oppose any new gun law, and the Cook County public defender’s office says there is minimal correlation between tougher sentencing for repeat gun offenders and crime prevention.
Johnson points out the proposed bill gives judges the ability to impose a lesser sentence taking into consideration such things as the defendant’s age, mental capacity and other factors. The idea is to give the judge the ability to target specific gang members to get them off the street while being more lenient when the situation warrants it.
“I am not seeking to mass incarcerate minorities, establish mandatory minimums, or take guns out of the hands of people who hold them legally,” said Johnson, who added that the goal is to use “a spear to pinpoint the individuals that are driving violence on the streets in Chicago.”
Meanwhile the short break in violence is over, guns are again blazing on the streets of Chicago and the legislature is out to lunch.