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Rahm Sticks to His Guns on Mandatory Minimum Sentences

By Ted Cox | October 21, 2013 1:07pm
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel isn't backing down on his call for a three-year prison term for gun violations.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel isn't backing down on his call for a three-year prison term for gun violations.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

EDISON PARK — The mayor did not back down Monday from his call for a three-year mandatory minimum sentence on gun violations.

"If you're gonna protect our community, our gun laws have to be stiffened," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference in Edison Park. "Gun laws in the City of Chicago are the weak link in the criminal-justice practice."

Emanuel cited the high-profile murder of Hadiya Pendleton and the Back of the Yards mass shooting as incidents where the accused suspects would not have been on the streets if a three-year mandatory minimum sentence for gun crimes were in effect. Emanuel said one Back of the Yards suspect "just did a stint in boot camp [and] should have been behind bars."

Emanuel derided the current one-year state sentence for gun violations. "I don't think it's working as a deterrent," he said, calling mandatory minimum sentences "an effective tool in adding a deterrent to many gun crimes."

Yet many members of the City Council raised concerns about mandatory minimums last week, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has also said they only add to prison populations without deterring crime. A Sun-Times editorial Monday declared, "Mandatory minimums don't work," and a WBEZ report cited research showing that more cops would reduce crime more than longer sentences would.

Emanuel also called for a ban on assault weapons, limits on ammunition and comprehensive background checks for all gun sales and transfers.

The mayor made the remarks at a news conference touting the completion of the city's delivering recycling bins to all 600,000 Chicago households.