County’s new gun-control ordinance takes aim at straw buyers
BY LISA DONOVAN Cook County Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org February 5, 2013 12:28PM
On Monday, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy looked at some of the hundreds of guns recently seized on the streets by police officers. I Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
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As gun violence continues to claim lives on Chicago’s streets and a national conversation about access to high-powered weapons has grown louder in the wake of Connecticut’s Sandy Hook school massacre, Cook County commissioners approved a new gun-control ordinance Tuesday aimed at straw purchasers.
With zero debate or discussion during the regular county board meeting, commissioners approved the gun-control ordinance, which the Chicago Sun-Times first reported last month. The new ordinance, which takes effect in August, will require firearm owners in suburban Cook County to report the make, model and serial number of lost, stolen, sold, transferred or destroyed firearms to the sheriff within 48 hours. It also empowers the sheriff to share that information with local law enforcement. Fines for violators start at $1,000.
The measure brings some uniformity on gun control in the county and Chicago. The city already has a similar reporting requirement on the books.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are taking a tag-team approach to stem the flow of guns into the city – and into the hands of criminals, after 2012 saw 500-plus homicides and more of the same in the first month of the new year.
Emanuel is pushing to double the maximum jail time to six months for: possession of a firearm without a permit; possession of assault weapons and other firearms that cannot be registered in Chicago, and sale or possession of high-capacity magazines and metal-piercing bullets.
Preckwinkle said there is a city-county link when it comes to guns making their way in to the hands of “bad actors.” After the county board meeting, she talked about a University of Chicago survey that showed 29 percent of weapons seized by Chicago Police at crime scenes were legally purchased at gun stores in suburban Cook County.
She said that “means they were purchased by straw purchasers, most likely — people who have firearms owner identification cards and buy weapons and then sell them to bad actors and gangbangers,” she said.
When the guns are traced back to legal owners, the owners often tell police it was lost or stolen “when in fact, most often, that’s not the case,” she said.
Last week’s fatal shooting Hadiya Pendleton, 15, in a park less than a mile from President Barack Obama’s South Side home threw the spotlight on Chicago’s almost daily gun violence, Preckwinkle said. Days before she was killed, Hadiya performed as a majorette at Obama’s inauguration celebrations.
“I think that national polling has shown there’s been a shift in public opinion in this country that goes back to the deaths of the young people in Newtown, Connecticut, and surely the magnitude of the problem was brought home by the recent death of this young woman,” Preckwinkle said.
Earlier in the meeting, commissioners offered their condolences to the teen’s family, but one elected leader said stricter gun control won’t wipe out the violence plaguing communities across the Chicago area.
“We can pass every gun law in the world. We can get rid of them. The problem will still remain,” said Commissioner Earlean Collins, a West Side Democrat,. “It isn’t just about guns, it’s about a whole culture change. It’s about a real commitment to deal with it and address the problems of poverty, ignorance and disease and economic despair in those communities where people have lost all hope and respect and the values that we all cherish.”