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Mayor Sets Special City Council Session For New Gun Ordinances

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called for a special session of the City Council next week, to vote on updates to the city’s assault weapons ban; and stiffer penalties for gun crimes near schools, on school buses, and along Safe Passage routes to and from school.

The mayor introduced the measures at the June 26 council meeting and wants aldermen to pass them by a deadline imposed for a new assault weapon ban included in concealed carry legislation approved by state lawmakers in May.

Although Gov. Pat Quinn used his amendatory veto power to extend that deadline, and make other changes to the concealed carry bill, lawmakers are expected to override that veto on Tuesday. Under the original legislation, Chicago and other municipalities have 10 days after the measure becomes law to pass new or updated local bans on assault weapons.

If lawmakers override Quinn’s veto as expected, that deadline would be July 19, two days after the special session ordered by the mayor.

“These dangerous weapons can wreak havoc in a matter of minutes as we have seen too often on our streets. They have no place in our city, and we’ll do whatever is necessary to make sure we have a strong law in place,” Emanuel said in a statement Tuesday morning.

The mayor’s proposed changes to the assault weapons ban would expand the definition of assault weapons that would be prohibited in city limits, to keep up with changes in gun technology in recent years.

The ordinance lists more than 150 specific types of firearms that would be included in the ban, and expands the definition of other assault weapons that would be banned:

–Any semiautomatic rifle or handgun able to accept a detachable magazine, and with one or more military feature.
–Any semiautomatic rifle with a fixed magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds.
–Any semiautomatic handgun with a fixed magazine that can hold more than 15 rounds.
–Any semiautomatic shotgun able to accept a detachable magazine, with one or more military feature, or able to hold more than 5 rounds.
–Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

Military features include folding, telescoping or detachable stocks; barrel shrouds; grenade, flare, or rocket launchers; threaded barrels. For handguns, a second pistol grip also qualifies as a military feature; and for shotguns and rifles, a forward grip qualifies.

Penalties for possessing assault weapons would remain the same, ranging from a $1,000 to $5,000 fine, and from 90 to 180 days in jail.

The mayor also proposed new penalties for gun crimes in designated school safety zones, on school buses, or along Safe Passage routes near public schools.

His measure would define a “school safety zone” as school grounds, and any spot within 1,000 feet of a school, between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. on any day school is in session. On other days when a school is hosting a school activity, the same area would be considered a “school safety zone” from one hour before until one hour after the scheduled activity.

Safe Passage routes established by the city for students to travel to and from school will be posted on the Internet.

Anyone convicted of carrying a gun in school safety zones, on school buses, or along Safe Passage routes would face a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 and one to six months in jail. A second offense would be punishable by a fine of $5,000 to $15,000 and three to six months in jail. A third offense would be punishable by a fine of $10,000 to $20,000 and six months in jail.

State laws already carry stiffer jail sentences for gun crimes near schools, but judges don’t always impose prison sentences for such offenses, so the city hopes stiffer financial penalties will act as a deterrent.

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