Mayor Emanuel’s recent commentary (“4,368 shootings have neither one cause nor one cure”) deserves praise for presenting a broad-based vision for violence reduction. The issue is complex, and there is no easy fix.
The mayor is right that those responsible for the city’s epidemic of gun violence must be held accountable. But let’s be sure any new laws accomplish that without making our neighborhoods less safe, which is a possible unintended consequence of his call for longer prison sentences for people possessing – not firing – guns.
For those charged with possessing an illegal gun — perhaps to protect themselves in communities where they believe law enforcement cannot or will not do that – the city should use all the other remedies the mayor suggests and more to increase community safety and to prevent that person from feeling forced to rely on an illegal gun for protection.
For those who murder or maim people using guns, the city should step up enforcement and solve more murders. More than four in five homicides didn’t even result in an arrest.
The people not held accountable today are those who – with no state supervision – sell the guns that are recovered in embattled communities that suffer from what the mayor calls the “scourge of gun violence.”
Illinois already has tough sentencing laws for gun crimes of illegal possession, aggravated assault and murder. What we don’t have is a way for those who sell the thousands of illegal guns to be held accountable. In his September speech on public safety, the mayor called for state legislation to license gun shops, which supply almost half of the illegal guns in the city.
We beseech him to throw his substantial political muscle behind this bill and face down the NRA. Put the rogue dealers out of business.
Program Manager, Illinois Justice Project
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