SPRINGFIELD, Ill -- A proposal to toughen the state’s gun laws on repeat offenders is one step closer to becoming law.
Today it got a big push forward from Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
Johnson was in Springfield Thursday and made an urgent plea for help from state lawmakers. He’s been arguing for tougher sentences for repeat gun offenders from Chicago’s crime scenes for months.
He’s pushing a bill that would stiffen penalties for the repeat offenders, and insists it’s a necessary step to combat Chicago’s gun violence.
“If a gun offender shows a repeated willingness to pick up a gun and use it illegally, those individuals need to pay a price,” he said.
Johnson had face-to-face meetings with state senators in the morning and also testified before a senate committee today.
Chicago had nearly 800 homicides in 2016 and nearly 90 percent were committed with guns.
“At the end of the day, it’s about saving lives,” Johnson said. “And there’s no way to help the pain of these families, the 767 people who lost loved ones. We have to do something about it. The notion that we can just continue to wait, is just absurd to me.”
Republicans on the committee voted against the bill, saying they supported the gun measure, but not a provision that would ease penalties on some drug crimes.
Some Democrats pressed Johnson arguing statistics show stiff sentences don’t lead to deterrence.
Stephanie Kollmann of Northwestern University argued against the bill, saying Illinois already has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws. She said the bill is “not the answer.”
The bill would increase the sentencing guidelines and allow judges to hand out sentences in the range of seven to 14 years instead of the current three to 14 years.
The bill advanced narrowly on a 6-to-5 vote and will go to the full senate for consideration.