Increasing sentence length for repeat gun offenders would seem to be a popular proposal, but a Chicago Sun Times article recounted an on-going disconnect between Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and the Illinois State Legislature.
The fact is in 2016, there were 4,379 people shot in the City of Chicago resulting in 717 dead. To put that in perspective, someone got shot about every two minutes, 24-hours a day, seven days a week; about every 12 minutes someone was shot to death. Johnson lives with those raw facts every day; the legislature lives with politics.
Generally, calls for more gun control coming out of Chicago are unrelentingly aimed at law abiding citizens. Gun control schemes invariably infringe on constitutional rights with no positive effect on violent crime.
Johnson had his say before the State Legislature last week but the effect remains to be seen. He pointed out the proposed bill puts the punishment squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrator which would seem to be the one thing all concerned parties could agree upon.
Johnson’s point, that implementation would create a “mental culture to not pick up a gun,” may or may not prove to be true. Regardless, it doesn’t diminish the fact that repeat violent gun offenders should be taken off the streets; the longer, the better. Unfortunately politics rears its ugly head.
The bill would have no effect on existing sentencing ranges but rather it would implement tougher sentences focused on repeat violent gun offenders. Currently unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon will merit a sentence between three and 14 years. The bill would boost that to seven to 14 years. Repeat aggravated unlawful use of a weapon would go from three to seven years up to six to seven years.
Enter politics. Other provisions of the bill include shrinking the protected area for drug crimes near a school from 1,000 to 500 feet. It would also remove public housing as a protected area and several other drug-related issues. It isn’t that Republicans necessarily object to all or part of the drug references but rather they don’t like the idea of including drug offenses in the bill to begin with. Cross Republican support off the list.
Downstate Democrats never saw a gun bill they liked and they particularly don’t like footing a bill that would be primarily implemented for the benefit of Chicago. Downstate Democrats are getting tired of John Q. Public paying for the sins of a long list of Democratic Mayors. Cross downstate Democrat support off the list.
And then there are members of the Legislative Black Caucus who are quick to suggest this is yet another way of institutionalizing members of the young, black community. They fail to see the bill for what it is, a reasonable attempt to start cleaning up Chicago’s mean streets. Cross Legislative Black Caucus support off the list.
And so it goes in Illinois where politics is the epoxy that lubricates the wheels of progress and the gunshots just keep on echoing on the mean streets of Chicago.