Debate over gun control in Chicago heats up

From a rally in downtown Chicago to a hearing on gun safety, people on both sides of the concealed carry debate are voicing their opinions.

About 200 demonstrators gathered at Federal Plaza Friday afternoon with a simple message: They want universal background checks on all gun sales.

“It’s that simple, this is the first of a three-point plan of the president’s, but this is the one we can act on today,” said Nellie Sires with Organizing for Action Illinois.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle addressed the crowd. She spoke about her efforts on behalf of Cook County to pass sensible gun-control legislation, but she says more needs to be done by the federal government.

“There’s only so much the county governments can do. We need stronger national laws,” she said at the rally.

Earlier Friday, at a hearing on gun safety and conceal carry, advocates on both sides addressed state lawmakers.  Chicago Police Superintendent McCarthy testified that Chicago police can’t keep up with the illegal firearms flowing into the city.

“I’m optimistic that it’s not just going to be a free-for-all, everyone can have a handgun. I believe what’s going to happen is that there’s going to be restrictions on it, where you have to show cause to receive a firearm,” McCarthy said.

National Rifle Association activists say that doesn’t mean citizens should be denied the right to carry and conceal a weapon.

“What business does the superintendent of the city of Chicago need deciding who gets to exercise their rights or not,” said Todd Vandermyde with the NRA.

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