CHICAGO — The mayor and the city's top police officer came out in favor of new gun laws in no uncertain terms Monday.
Speaking "in the shadow of Sandy Hook"—after last week's school massacre in Connecticut—at a ceremony honoring new officers and new promotions in the Police Department, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, "I do not want to see more weapons on the street, more guns on the street.
"It's time as a city we have an assault-weapon ban," he added. "It's time we, as a state, have an assault-weapon ban. It's time we, as a country, have an assault-weapon ban. And I would hope that the leadership in Congress would now have a vote of conscience."
"The answer to firearms is not more firearms," said Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. "The answer is not more guns.
"I think absolutely an assault-weapons ban makes sense and would help us on the street," he added.
A ten-year federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004; Congress failed to renew it.
McCarthy also came out in favor of a ban on lethal ammunition and expanded gun magazines and a state law requiring gun owners to report the sale, loss or transfer of firearms.
"This isn't about denying people guns," McCarthy said. "It's about the fact that they have to be accountable for where they are. I don't think that's overwhelming."
He said the bulk of guns used in crimes in the city are "legally purchased, illegally transferred," and that gun transfers should be registered the same way auto sales and transfers are.
"This is not brain surgery. It's really simple. Fact is, too many guns leads to more violence," McCarthy said. "We have to wake an American consciousness to this. And I don't know how some people sleep at night thinking they can defend this."
Emanuel and McCarthy made the remarks at a ceremony honoring 41 newly graduated police recruits and the promotion of 40 new sergeants, three new commanders and a new deputy chief at Navy Pier Monday morning.
Foremost among the promotions was Cmdr. Leo Schmitz being named deputy chief, while remaining head of the Englewood District, which has seen a dramatic drop in shootings and homicides since the anti-gang expert was placed in charge here in January.
"Leadership counts," Emanuel said. "Leadership can make a difference in fighting crime and reducing gun violence."
"We are putting the best people in the right places, the most difficult and challenging places," McCarthy said, adding that he was out to create a "meritocracy where the hardest workers and the most talented people get to the most important positions."
Both Emanuel and McCarthy cited the overall drop in city crime this year, and while they acknowledged that murders are up from recent years, they pointed to how the pace had slowed of late since changes were made in leadership positions at various districts.
"The trend line has been going in the right direction," McCarthy said. "The things we put in place are in fact working, and we just have to stick with it."