Mayor beats the drum for three-year sentence for gun crimes in wake of Cornell Square Park shooting

SHARE Mayor beats the drum for three-year sentence for gun crimes in wake of Cornell Square Park shooting
SHARE Mayor beats the drum for three-year sentence for gun crimes in wake of Cornell Square Park shooting

The criminal justice system is more like a “revolving door” than a deterrent for gun crimes, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday, renewing his call for a three-year minimum sentence to prevent a repeat of the Cornell Square Park shooting that injured 13 people, including a three-year-old boy.

“The criminal justice system is not a deterrent anymore. It’s a revolving door. Springfield needs to step up….Springfield needs to be part of the solution,” Emanuel said.

“They dealt last year under court order with concealed carry. This year, put a three year minimum for any gun felony so you’re not becoming a repeat offender on the streets of Chicago. Help our neighborhoods, our residents, our police department our children…by actually tightening up our gun laws…which has proven in New York City to be a major contributor to their reduction in gun violence.”

Emanuel said he’s talked to all four legislative leaders in the last 48 hours about imposing a three-year minimum sentence for gun crimes with a requirement that those convicted serve 85 percent of their time.

He wants it done during the veto session, but he knows it won’t be easy. Not even after the Back of the Yards shooting shined another unflattering national spotlight on Chicago’s epidemic of gang violence.

“The big problem as it relates to toughening up our gun laws is a constant where the event occurs like a Hadiya Pendleton or what happened at Cornell Park and, by the time legislators pay attention, it’s a distant memory,” the mayor said.

“I want Springfield to have the same sense of urgency that the people of Chicago [whom] they represent have [so] we don’t have another incident where somebody with a prior criminal background with a gun record is back on the streets of Chicago in nine months rather than behind bars for three years miniumum…..Finally use this to change the laws. Stop allowing excuses.”

One of four men charged in last week’s shooting has a criminal record that includes a 2012 conviction for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and a 2011 conviction for receiving stolen property.

He was sentenced to Cook County Jail boot camp for the gun-possession conviction and had received probation in the other case, records show.

In the 2012 case, police had responded to a report of someone being shot and saw Bryon Champ running through a gangway with a gun in his hand, according to court records.

When police arrested Champ a short while later, he was carrying a .40-caliber semi-automatic gun loaded with 10 rounds and one in the chamber, records show.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has pointed to the case to highlight the need for stricter gun laws that would have put Champ in prison.

“If Bryon Champ is not on the street — as he shouldn’t have been — this incident likely does not occur,” McCarthy said Tuesday.

As for the things he can accomplish on his own, Emanuel said he is committed to increasing funding for after-school and summer jobs programs for at-risk youth, hiring police officers at a pace quick enough to maintain “full strength” and bolstering foot patrols.

The mayor noted that, during his Sunday-night ride-along with McCarthy in two of the city’s most violent police districts, “In one of the zones, I counted 7-to-8 cars driving around. I was impressed with that. I want to explore how to actually expand on that.”

After a July 4th weekend bloodbath that included 38 shootings and ten homicides, Emanuel called gun control the “weak link” in Chicago’s public safety chain.

He used almost identical language on Wednesday.

Gun control is the “fundamental weak link and a broken link in the system,” the mayor said.

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