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Emanuel Calls For Statewide Gun Registry

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling for a statewide gun registry. (Credit: CBS)

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Updated 02/09/12 – 5:46 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel is looking to close a loophole that, he says, allows more illegal guns to find their way to the streets.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the mayor is calling for state legislation that would require guns to be registered statewide, which would help police track the guns they seize.

The mayor chose the Kids off the Block Center, at 11621 S. Michigan Ave., as the venue to announce the proposed legislation.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, Emanuel and other gun control advocates want to be able to trace ownership of guns used to commit crimes.

Right now, the chain is broken when a dealer sells a gun. Where it goes after that is anybody’s guess. Although gun owners must register and be approved for a Firearm Owner’s Identification card, their actual guns are not registered by the state.

Chicago Public Radio reported the measure would require handgun owners to pay $65 for a registration to the state. While gun owners currently must be approved for a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, the actual guns are not registered by the state, Chicago Public Radio reported.

Mayor Emanuel compared his proposed legislation to requiring a title for a vehicle.

“You already buy a title for a car. There are other things – you buy a title for a boat,” Emanuel said. “I’m not asking you to do anything you don’t do already.”

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy calls the proposed legislation common sense.

“This law is not a gun grab. It does not infringe upon anyone’s Second Amendment rights,” he said.

The idea came from the activist priest the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina parish.

“It’s not conservative issue, and it is not a progressive issue. It is not a Chicago or downstate issue,” Pfleger said. “It is a human life issue.”

Mayor Emanuel acknowledged that a statewide gun registry has been proposed before, and has failed. What is different now?

“I have a long history, both on the Brady Bill, assault weapon ban, and passing gun legislation,” Emanuel said.

Besides that, the proposed legislation already has bipartisan support in the Illinois General Assembly, Emanuel said.

The gun registration initiative is just one part of Emanuel’s and McCarthy’s crime reduction strategy.

Another involves following the CompStat program, a data-driven approach to fighting crime under a model started by New York City.

After starting the CompStat program, between 1990 and 2011, New York City saw homicides cut by 80%, robberies cut by 83%, and burglaries cut by 86%. Though, admittedly, crime everywhere dropped during that period.

Berkeley Law School criminal justice professor Franklin Zimring was the author of “The City That Became Safe,” a book about New York City’s crime fighting efforts.

“What happened in New York was a crime drop that was twice as big and it lasted twice as long,” Zimring said.

Zimring, a former Chicagoan who now heads criminal justice research at Berkely, wrote the book on the New York model.

But McCarthy and Bob Tracy, the CPD’s chief of crime control strategies, were there to help direct the effort in New York City.

With McCarthy and Tracy bringing CompStat from New York to Chicago, Zimring predicted “that crime will go down and go down significantly.”

McCarthy and Tracy agreed that such significant drops in crime could happen in Chicago.

McCarthy’s CompStat meetings put district commanders on the hot spot, but he’s also given them more authority, and more manpower to target crime hotspots and trends identified by Tracy.

They recently experienced a setback, when January homicides in Englewood spiked during the first three weeks of the year. But since then, McCarthy said it’s been a different story.

On Friday, McCarthy plans to announce homicides dropped by more than 75 percent in the city from Jan. 24 through Thursday, Feb. 9.

“We’ve had four murders this year since Janurary 24th; last year we had 18 murders,” McCarthy said.

The superintendent will also announce other reductions in crime rates on Friday, but he knows the New York numbers set the bar awfully high.

“I’m perfectly willing to put it all on the line, so yeah, we’re gonna get it done,” he said.

McCarthy and Zimring will be together again Friday at a University of Chicago program on reducing Urban Crime and Violence.

While the trend might be positive and the predictions optimistic, the jury is still out on what the mayor and McCarthy are trying to do.

Not long after they announced the city had gone 24 hours without a single shooting or murder one day last month, there was a localized epidemic of murders, and then relative quiet again.

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