THE LOOP — Gov. Bruce Rauner Friday signed a bill designed to toughen penalties for those convicted of multiple gun crimes, a measure backed by Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a way to reduce the surge of violence on Chicago's South and West sides.
Johnson, who traveled to Springfield to be part of the ceremony 24 hours after the legislation became embroiled in the fight between the mayor and governor over the sale of Thompson Center, said the bill should put repeat gun offenders on notice that they will go to prison.
“This legislation provides new tools for law enforcement and the courts to take on violent crime, while providing a second chance for non-violent, first time offenders,” Rauner said. “This shows what is possible when leaders at all levels of government work together, and across party lines, to address the challenges facing our cities and state. It took several months of hard work, compromise and bipartisan cooperation — but together, we got it done.”
In a statement, Emanuel thanked Rauner for signing the bill, adding that "public safety is everyone’s responsibility, and this law will help make neighborhoods across Illinois stronger, safer and more secure.”
The bill instructs judges to sentence some repeat gun felons to at least seven years and as many as 14 years. Judges who decline to follow that recommendation would have to explain their reasoning.
The measure won the governor's support after provisions that would have reduced penalties for some drug crimes were removed from the bill.
Chicago Urban League President Shari Runner opposed the law, saying it would contribute to jail overcrowding and waste taxpayer funds.
More than 90 percent of the people murdered in Chicago during 2016 were slain with a gun.
Johnson personally lobbied lawmakers to pass the bill, traveling to Springfield to testify about it and assuring lawmakers he was confident it would help officers turn the tide of violence that has shown no sign slowing after last year's spike.