Pols Back Obama on Gun Control, But Laws Won't Have Much Impact on Chicago
CHICAGO — Local politicians were quick to line up behind President Barack Obama's call for stronger, more coordinated gun laws Wednesday.
The president proposed mandatory background checks on all gun sales, as well as a national ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
But even if passed by Congress, the measures would have little actual bearing on Chicago. The city bans all firearm and ammunition sales, and there's a ban on assault weapons across Cook County that has survived court challenges since 2006.
Yet that didn't keep politicians from backing the president.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle came out in support of Obama's proposals. She also submitted a new demand that gun owners report lost or stolen firearms locally to the sheriff.
The County Board will consider that measure in February, after passing a resolution Wednesday calling on the General Assembly to strengthen gun control.
"I stand with President Obama in calling on Congress to adopt strong policies that will reduce gun violence," said Gov. Pat Quinn. "We must act now to protect the children and people of America."
"The President has proposed a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to gun-safety rules, and these are exactly the common-sense laws that we need as a city and a nation to help prevent the gun violence that too often plagues our communities," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "People throughout the country are supportive of common-sense laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and give law-enforcement officials the tools they need to protect our children, our families and our neighborhoods."
Yet politicians were not in lockstep on gun control. A Cook County Board resolution calling on the General Assembly to pass stronger gun laws, including registration and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity clips, came under attack from both Republicans and Democrats.
Commissioner John Fritchey (D-Chicago) cited statistics showing that only 2 percent of gun-related murders in Chicago were committed with assault weapons.
"We need to focus on the other 98 percent," he said.
"You said it well," added Commissioner Earlean Collins (D-Chicago). "It sounds good. It feels good. But most of what's proposed is dealing with symptoms.
"There are real problems and issues the children are dealing with to make them fight back and strike back," Collins added. "These kids are hurting and they're angry."
Commissioner Timothy Schneider (R-Bartlett) said the resolution was too broad, and Commissioner Gregg Goslin (R-Glenview) said it would fall on deaf ears in Springfield.
"They don't care what we have to say," Goslin said. "We have to concentrate on matters we have control over."
After the resolution passed, 10-2, with Schneider and Goslin opposed and Fritchey joining two others in voting "present," the board did just that, accepting a proposed ordinance from Preckwinkle and Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-Chicago) requiring gun owners report lost or stolen guns and sending it to committee for consideration next month.
"Far too often guns that were purchased legally wind up in the hands of criminals,” Preckwinkle said. “This ordinance will help law enforcement crack down on individuals who repeatedly fail to file reports yet claim their guns were lost or stolen after they are recovered from a crime scene."
The ordinance, if passed, would require gun owners to report lost, stolen, sold or otherwise transferred firearms to the Sheriff's Office within 48 hours or face a $1,000 fine.
"We are facing an epidemic of gun violence, and our community's need to mitigate this carnage has made public safety a central focus of my office," Garcia added.
"This ordinance does not take a single gun out of a law-abiding citizen’s hands," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. "It will allow law enforcement to go after individuals who are conducting straw purchases of guns for gangs and others who are obtaining guns illegally. I believe by passing this ordinance and working with local agencies we will be able to make our communities and streets safer places for our children and families."
Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy have made similar proposals, and Emanuel has promised new proposals this week. Preckwinkle said the legislation was being tailored to withstand court challenges, like a 2006 Cook County ban on assault weapons that remains in effect.