CPD superintendent appeals to lawmakers for tougher gun laws

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Today Chicago’s top cop spent the day in Springfield appealing to lawmakers to lend a hand to stop Chicago’s rate of gun violence.

CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson faced tough questions in Springfield today. He was pushing hard to crack down on repeat gun offenders.

“I’ve been a police officer for 29 years and I’ve seen too many lives cut short and too many parents lose a child,” he said. “And quite frankly, as an African American leader, I’m disgusted. And as a cop I’m angry.”

The legislation would increase sentencing guidelines for judges. People caught a second time with an illegal gun could face 14 years behind bars.

“The purpose is to create a culture of accountability so that people won’t want to pick up a handgun and use it in a violent way,” Johnson said.
Johnson and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have long advocated for the measure.

But some Democrats, especially African American members, are highly skeptical. They say tougher penalties should be a piece of a comprehensive approach to fighting gun violence.

“Is it something that’s actually going to make our communities safer and end the violence?” said Rep. Juliana Stratton.

“You want to put them away but you don’t want to give them the means to be successful when they get out,” said Rep. Rita Mayfield.

Rep. William Davis said, “It’s about economic justice, it’s about jobs, opportunity, and nowhere in this bill does it really offer that piece of the puzzle.”

Senator Kwame Raoul of Chicago shepherded the measure out of the Senate and Republican Leader Jim Durkin took up the cause in the House and promised the backing of his caucus and Governor Rauner.

With Johnson looking on, the committee advanced the bill to the full House.

It was a victory for Johnson and Emanuel.

Also at the state capitol today, lawmakers huddled in caucus discussing a budget solution. The Senate sent the House several measures. This morning, on WGN Radio, Governor Rauner discussed the bills he will support saying, “I applaud Senate Democrats. They passed some real procurement reform, I will sign that bill. … They passed real pension reform that I believe is constitutional, I will sign that bill.”

Property tax relief remains a thorny issues. The Senate wants a two year freeze. The governor wants a permanent one. The next move belongs to House Speaker Mike Madigan. The House plans to work through the weekend.