Three Chicago aldermen plan to introduce a proposal at the end of the month to ban the sale and possession of gun-shaped cellphone cases in Chicago.
Ald. Ed Burke (14th), Ariel Reboyras (30th) and Willie Cochran (20th) will submit their proposal to the city council's finance committee on July 27. The aldermen argue that the new "gun grip" cellphone cases can be mistaken by police as actual weapons and pose a threat to public safety.
The cases have the appearance of a real gun with a trigger, and the cellphone sits where the barrel of the gun would be. When placed in a back pocket, the cellphone is concealed and the handle of the "gun" is displayed.
"Whether this case is sticking out of your pocket, or being held in your hand, it could be confused by law enforcement officers as a firearm," Burke said. "Allowing these cases to proliferate in Chicago would be a threat to public safety and almost certainly lead to a tragic event. We must act now to ban this outrageous product and make it illegal in the City."
Cochran warned that police could react "in split seconds" when they see one of these cases, prompting a dangerous situation that could end in an unnecessary shooting. He added that cellphone users with the case are "asking for nothing but trouble."
The measure was endorsed by Dean Angelo, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
"If I were out on the street and approached an individual with one of these in their waistband or pocket, my weapon would be out," Angelo said. "I would not take the chance that this is not a real gun."
The proposal asks lawmakers to ban other products shaped like guns, such as lighters or cameras, as well.
If the measure passes, violators would face fines of up to $750 per offense.
The proposal marks the second time in the last 10 years that Chicago officials have enacted curbs on fake weapons. In 2005, a measure passed in City Council that imposes fines on anyone who sold, purchased or possessed fake "military-style weapons."