Chicago gun control ordinance in the works, Emanuel says
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org January 10, 2013 1:35PM
Updated: February 12, 2013 2:36PM
Conceding that “waiting is not my strong suit,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday he’s drafting a Chicago-only gun control ordinance that, he hopes, will prod the Illinois General Assembly to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
Emanuel offered no specifics on how far he planned to go, given the city’s track record of going too far and having its handgun ban overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
He would only say he was frustrated by the General Assembly’s failure to act during the lame-duck session and that he was not prepared to wait any longer to stop the bloodbath on Chicago streets.
“Waiting is not a strong suit of mine. ... I can do certain things in the city. We’re gonna take those steps and push to do that. ... You’ll see [the details] in the coming days. That gives you some suspense. I can’t wait for that,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean that Springfield gets a pass or Washington gets a pass. They, too, have to step up and do their job. I will do mine. I will take responsibility and do that. I hope this not only will be the responsibility I take for what I can control. I hope it will be a spur to action to Springfield to take the steps that are necessary for them.”
Although the Newtown, Conn., school massacre appeared to change the political dynamic of the gun control debate, the assault weapons ban wasn’t even called for a vote during the lame-duck legislative session because of a shortage of votes.
Meanwhile, the General Assembly is on the clock to become the last state in the nation to authorize the carrying of concealed weapons after a federal appeals court overturned the Illinois ban.
Still, Emanuel said, “I know there’s a majority in the state and there’s an overwhelming majority in the city for a ban on assault weapons, clips and comprehensive background checks on all sales, wherever the location may be. And there’s also a majority in the Legislature. While they didn’t get it done in the [lame-duck] session, their work must begin immediately in this new Legislature for it.”
The mayor’s new gun ordinance is likely to focus on the wish list that Police Supt. Garry McCarthy unveiled at an anti-gun rally last week that included parents whose children were innocent victims of gun violence.
McCarthy argued then that his officers would continue “drinking from a fire hose” until Illinois: bans assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; requires gun owners to report lost, stolen or transferred firearms; mandates criminal background checks before every single gun sale and imposes mandatory minimum penalties “sufficient to deter people” from carrying illegal firearms.
“We need those five things. Not just assault weapons. Not just high-capacity magazines. We need all of it,” McCarthy said on that day.
Noting that Chicago Police recover nine guns for every one recovered in Los Angeles, he said, “That’s insanity, folks.”
While the mayor was talking tough on guns, the City Council’s Public Safety Committee was relaxing city regulations on shooting ranges in Chicago that are the subject of yet another pending court challenge.
Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), the mayor’s City Council floor leader, acknowledged that whatever Emanuel does locally is certain to end up court. That’s why the mayor’s legal brain trust has been scouring recent court rulings across the country on the subject.
“It’s the art of going to the end without going over the edge. ... It’s nuanced pretty well. There are significant enough changes,” O’Connor said, careful not to spill the beans.
“We believe, based upon what we’ve done and researched, that the ordinance will stand [legal] muster. Obviously, if the state and federal government were to step into this in a big way, they could save a lot of time and energy that municipalities spend trying to do what states and the federal government have been unwilling to do.”