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McCarthy Continues Call for 'Common Sense' Gun Laws

By Quinn Ford | February 25, 2013 2:43pm | Updated on February 25, 2013 3:46pm

WEST ENGLEWOOD — Police Supt. Garry McCarthy held another news conference Monday on the need to get guns off Chicago's streets.

But the city's top cop once again said police seizing guns is not the answer to solving Chicago's problems with violent crime.

Instead, he renewed the call for Illinois lawmakers to pass stronger gun control laws, namely creating longer mandatory minimum prison sentences for illegal gun possession and requiring gun owners to report the sale, theft or transfer of a gun.

"Folks, I cannot make it any simpler. It cannot be more simple," McCarthy said. "We've got to stem the flow of these guns that are reaching our streets, and that happens through the facilitation of gun laws in the state of Illinois."

McCarthy listed a number of crimes he said occurred in the last two weeks — including murder, drug dealing and assaulting a police officer — that he said would not have happened if stricter gun laws were in place.

"And by the way, I'm going to say it again, the alleged shooter of Hadiya Pendleton would not have been available if we had mandatory minimum sentencing for possession of a firearm," McCarthy said.

The comments come the same day that Mayor Rahm Emanuel reiterated his "100 percent support" of McCarthy while also admitting his "impatience" with the city's high murder rate. Emanuel's comments were prompted by Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), the chairman of the city council's black caucus, who commented to the Sun-Times that the "clock is ticking" for McCarthy to better address the problem.

McCarthy said he is "cautiously optimistic" that lawmakers in Springfield will heed his call.

He also said he believes potential criticisms of stricter gun laws — such as increased incarceration that would disproportionately affect the city's African-American population at a time when Illinois' prison population is at an all-time high — are ultimately "excuses."

Cutting the murder rate would save money, McCarthy said. He said the prison population is decreasing in the state of New York, which has the sort of gun laws McCarthy wants — laws he credited with acting as a deterrent to crime.

Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th), who stood beside McCarthy at Monday's news conference, said afterward she agrees with him when it comes to the question of prison overcrowding. Foulkes said she also supported McCarthy's call for stricter laws as a way to combat violence.

"They'll find the money [for prisons]," Foulkes said, adding she believes McCarthy knows what he is talking about. "He has the stats."

Foulkes, who said she has lived in Englewood since her childhood, said she is happy with how McCarthy is handling the Police Department.

"Definitely in the 7th District and 8th District, yes I am," Foulkes said.

But McCarthy also acknowledged gun laws alone will not decrease city violence in the long term.

"It's not just a policing problem, but the fact is we can do something about the gun laws now which is going to slow down the violence on the streets," he said. "It's going to take us awhile to fix poverty. It's going to take us awhile to fix families. It's going to take us awhile to fix Godless people."

McCarthy said addressing the city's gang problem will also take time, but he said changing gun laws is something that can have an immediate impact.

"We can change the idea of [gangs] carrying firearms. We can change the way they obtain those firearms," McCarthy said.

As he has said in the past, addressing the city's gun laws is "so simple, and we're making it complicated."

"We're going to continue to do this. We're going to continue showing you guns every single week," McCarthy said. "What is it that Einstein said? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, so we've got to change something."