Flanked by parents of gun crime victims, Mayor Rahm Emanuel yesterday engaged in political theatre while telling the media that he'll push to get state lawmakers to pass tougher gun laws in the form of mandatory sentences for gun law violators.
Specifically, the Mayor wants the General Assembly to vote for a bill that would mandate minimum sentences of three years behind bars with 85 percent of the time served for gun crimes that now require one or two years locked up.
Opponents to this latest gun law argued it will unfairly target law abiding gun owners and that locking people up for longer times will overload Illinois' already overcrowded prison and drive up penitentiary costs for the already financially crippled state.
Democrat State Rep. Brandon Phelps told Ray Long of the Tribune that he fears a hunter could get punished for unintentionally having an outdated firearm owner identification card even if attempt to renew his expired card simply got caught up in processing as State Police work through a backlog of renewal applications."
National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde had a more cynical take on Emanuel's plan, accusing the Mayor of looking for a way to save face “because he lost on the concealed carry fight.”
“Rahm’s out there looking for a life preserver,” Vandermyde said. "If Cook County prosecutors don’t exercise good judgment in filing charges, they will put people with unintentional mistakes in jail. I haven’t seen a lot of discretion,” Vandermyde said.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, supported the bill when it first arose and there is “no change there” now, said Steve Brown, Madigan’s spokesman.