Chicago aldermen want to ban illicit weapons to reduce crime. Last week, the City Council passed an ordinance that gives police the power to punish and jail illegal gun owners no matter what the courts say.
Supporters of the new rule claim this is just a tool for police to decrease violent crime. Critics argue that this is political posturing that will further erode community trust in the criminal justice system.
Chicago will remove 12,000 illegal weapons in 2021. The new rule allows authorities to penalise gun owners with fines and prison time.
“The Cook County State’s Attorney office is failing us,” stated Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th).
Ald. O’Shea backed the measure, which passed the City Council this week. He criticises Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s refusal to charge gun violators.
“Quite simply, if our court colleagues aren’t going to do their job, then we’ll look at adding a tool for law enforcement,” O’Shea said.
An unlawful firearms offence may result in a $5,000 fine and 90 days in prison. Second offences result in $20,000 fines and 180 days in prison.
The city would still hold that individual responsible if the State’s Attorney dismissed or lessened the charges.
$5,000 Fine and 90 Days in Prison
“There is just no evidence—not one piece of research—that imposing enormous penalties on persons who have already been convicted would promote public safety,” said Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law clinical law professor Sheila Bedi.
Bedi opposes the law and believes the city should fund proven gun violence alternatives.
“Investing in restorative justice, mental health care, and job opportunities,” Bedi explained.”
City Council has doubled down on a punitive approach—which will only further harm our black and brown populations.”
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) Opposes the Gun Restriction
“I believe it’s going to generate mistrust in the system, I think it’s going to confuse people, and the last thing that we want is to use our limited resources on things that the Law Department should not be concentrating on,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
O’Shea replied: “This targets gun-carrying criminals. “Gun violence has become tiresome.”
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office didn’t comment.