CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and other top police brass were headed to Springfield on Tuesday, in an effort to convince lawmakers to ban the sales of body armor and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The proposed gun control legislation was named in honor of fallen Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, who was shot and killed outside the Thompson Center two weeks ago. Police and prosecutors have said the four-time felon charged with his murder was wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with a semi-automatic handgun with an extended clip.
The proposal originally was introduced to the General Assembly last year, but has since been amended and renamed the Paul Bauer Act.
“God works in funny ways, you know, and I think that the fact that Commander Bauer was killed just helps propel what we need to do. You know, a lot of this legislation has been talked about for years, and nothing’s been accomplished. So hopefully what happened, and the tragedy of it will help send a message that we need to do something about it, and maybe today is that day,” Johnson said before heading to Springfield with Chief of Patrol Fred Waller and one of the captains from the 18th District, where Bauer was the commander.
Johnson planned to testify in support of the proposed legislation Tuesday in front of the House Judiciary Committee. The measure would ban the sale of body armor and high-capacity ammunition magazines to anyone other than police officers, security guards, and the military.
The superintendent choked up when he spoke about the man charged with killing Bauer, as he explained why the bill should pass.
“Why would the average citizen walk around with body armor on, unless they’re intending to do harm to someone?” he said. “This monster that committed that murder, there was no reason in the world for him to have a 30 … there’s just no reason for him to have an extended magazine.”
The House Judiciary Committee also was scheduled to consider other gun control measures this week, including restrictions on the sales of military-style assault weapons, a ban on bump stocks and other devices that allow guns to fire more rapidly, and a requirement for gun dealers to obtain a state license.
If approved in committee, the measures could get a full House vote as early as Wednesday.
At a police recruit ceremony on Monday, Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said there is no more waiting to pass tougher gun laws.
“I believe these measures are so important that I will personally be engaged to advocate for these changes, and we’ll be in Springfield to appeal to our state lawmakers,” Johnson said.
The mayor urged everyone to put pressure on lawmakers to approve tougher gun control laws.
“Those are important investments, important actions that Springfield has to take, and has to take now to back up all the hard work you’re doing, and all the hard work that our residents expect and need,” Emanuel told a group of new police recruits. “If the legislators do not back up public safety, do not back up the police officers in this primary and in this general election, you must hold them accountable.”
Last year, Johnson also testified in support of legislation that would urge judges to impose longer sentences for repeat gun offenders, or explain why they are giving a lesser sentence. The governor signed that legislation last summer.