In a City Hall press conference with Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for longer sentences for illegal gun possession, calling Illinois’ current justice system “a turnstile and a revolving door.”
Emanuel cited a New York law that mandated a three-and-a-half year sentence for possession as an important part of New York City’s “strategy for reducing gun violence in their city.”
The current sentence for felons caught with guns in Illinois is two years, but violators generally serve half that -- often less, after credit for good behavior. In New York, they must serve 85 percent of their sentences. Keeping those criminals off the streets for extended periods results in less crime, Emanuel said.
“We need to make sure that once a crime is committed, we don’t allow them back on the street to become perpetrators or victims,” Emanuel said.
State Sen. Tony Munoz, D-Chicago, who attended the press conference, will sponsor the bill in the General Assembly.
President Obama is visiting Chicago on Friday to discuss the economy and gun violence. Emanuel was asked whether he is concerned that will cast an unflattering light on the city’s nation-leading murder count.
“The issue of gun violence is not limited to Chicago,” Emanuel said. “The only time the gun debate gets affected is when Newtown happens. Too often, it’s Columbine, it’s Newtown, it’s Sandy Hook. The urban violence gets put in a different value system. These are our kids. The worst thing would be to say, ‘Let’s not discuss this.’ If Chicago can lead the way to common sense gun laws, I’m proud of that.”