Chicago’s Top Cop To Lobby Lawmakers On Repeat Gun Offender Law

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson was in Springfield on Thursday to urge state lawmakers to approve tougher sentences for repeat gun offenders.

Under current state law, offenders charged with unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon face 3 to 14 years in prison. State Sen. Antonio Munoz and Sen. Kwame Raoul have proposed legislation that would recommend repeat offenders get 7 to 14 years instead.

While judges would still use their own discretion in determining sentences, the legislation would require them to explain their rulings.

“That person is going to do something bad with a gun, and we ought not have to wait until somebody gets shot to hold somebody accountable,” Raul said.

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The measure appears to have strong support in the Senate.

Johnson was set to testify in favor of the legislation at a committee hearing at noon. The full Senate could vote on the proposal later in the day.

Raoul said there is a bipartisan effort to pass the measure.

Johnson has been frustrated with the slow pace of the legislation in Springfield.

“Gun offenders get slaps on the wrist in this city, and it has to stop,” Johnson has said.

The superintendent said about 1,500 people in Chicago are responsible for most of the violent crime, and the proposed legislation would target that group.

Johnson has been pushing for tougher sentences for repeat gun offenders since he became the city’s top cop. He has the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Bruce Rauner, and many state lawmakers.

The issue came to the forefront in August, when 32-year-old Nykea Aldridge was gunned down while pushing her newborn baby in a stroller. The two brothers charged with her murder had been on parole and both had prior gun convictions.

Aldridge’s mother, Diann, agreed Illinois needs stricter gun laws, but said that’s not enough.

“What are they doing while they’re inside the prison walls to be reformed?” she said. “We have to start at the beginning to find out why this keeps reoccurring, why they keep want to make the same mistake. Why, why, why?”

Derren Sorrells, 22, and Darwin Sorrells, 26, were both charged with one count of first degree murder and one count of attempted first degree murder. The brothers both were ordered held without bail.

In August, Johnson said the suspects are an example of the city’s problem with repeat gun offenders. Darwin Sorrells was sentenced to six years in prison in January 2013 on a gun charge and was released early on parole, while Derren Sorrells is a known gang member who also was on parole.

“They don’t care who they shoot and they don’t fear the consequences,” Johnson said said.

Police have said the brothers were firing at a third man when they shot Aldridge, a cousin of Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade.

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