(CBS) — Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk is adding his voice to those calling for tougher sentences for gun crimes in Illinois, reports WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore.

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Seated next to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Senator Kirk says he is urging state lawmakers to approve the Emanuel administration’s bill to impose mandatory three-year minimum sentences for most gun crimes.

“Because Garry has come to me on this passage of the state bill for minimum mandatories I’m going to back him and use my bully pulpit as a senator,” said Kirk.

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Despite critics who say mandatory minimums don’t work, McCarthy is unrelenting.

“Carrying an illegal, loaded weapon is a violent crime and should be treated as such because it is the gateway crime to committing a murder,” said McCarthy.

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He says some of the researchers who criticize laws like this couldn’t find the high-crime area of Englewood on a map and never talk to the families there.