NEAR WEST SIDE — Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for more “common sense” gun laws Saturday, the day after a shooting spree at a Connecticut elementary school left a reported 20 children and six adults dead.
“It can’t just be a community and a police department and a criminal justice system,” Emanuel said Saturday at the opening of the new Near West district police station, 1412 S. Blue Island Ave. “We need common sense gun laws. We gotta know the difference between sportsmanship and an Uzi, one that was meant for the battlefield, one that was never meant for our streets and our neighborhoods.”
Emanuel’s comments come after a ruling this week where the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Illinois’ laws prohibiting citizens from carrying firearms outside their homes. The court gave the state six months to implement the law. State Attorney General representatives said this week that options are being reviewed.
After the Saturday ceremony at the $21.5 million station, which replaces a 60-year-old station at 100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said resident concerns about a lessened police presence with the consolidation of the Wood district into the Near West district are unfounded. The Wood district and Monroe district were combined to create the Near West district.
East Village residents have expressed concern about less cops on the street with the planned closure of the Wood district station at 937 N. Wood St.
“It’s simply not true,” McCarthy said. “The officers will be there in greater numbers than they were last week. It’s simply mathematical fact."
The merger will mean more officers on the streets and greater efficiency, he said.
“A building doesn't keep people safe,” McCarthy said. “The cops do.”
The district merger is part of a consolidation plan implemented in March, the first time the city has attempted such a move in more than 30 years, he said during the ceremony.
The merger will result in “significant cost savings,” McCarthy said, adding “that’s the last reason we did it.”
With more than 500 officers, the Near West district is now the largest district in the city, spanning eight communities, Emanuel said.