Chicago Leaders Combat Gun Violence

A House Bill regarding stronger punishment for unlawful gun offenses is up for debate in the fall veto session, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in support. We talk with Ald. Will Burns (4th) and Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) about how to combat gun violence in Chicago, and across the state.


Gun violence is a crucial issue facing the city of Chicago and Illinois. According to FBI data, Chicago had 500 murders in 2012 - more than any other U.S. city. State officials are working to pass a law to strengthen sentencing for gun crime with the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“If you’re going to protect our communities, our gun laws have to be stiffened,” Emanuel said Monday.

With concealed carry legislation in the early stages of implementation, lawmakers are now ramping up for debate on House Bill 2265 that would require a mandatory minimum sentence of three years for those caught carrying or using a gun without a permit. Those in violation would be required to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence.

But researchers say harsher sentencing proves ineffective.

Data from the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University released last week shows that mandatory minimum sentencing is costly and ineffective in states that have already implemented similar statutes.

The data shows states like Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia that passed mandatory minimum laws in the past, saw little effect on gun violence due to harsher sentencing.       

The Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC) estimates that additional inmates, due to increased sentencing, will cost the state and taxpayers roughly $131 million annually.

However, the University of Chicago Crime Lab director Jens Ludwig maintains that mandatory minimum sentencing would be a cost-effective solution to Chicago’s gun violence.

As debate on the issue of gun violence increases, city officials are calling for greater police presence  and more resources where gun violence is most prevalent.

“We need more police officers, and that has been shown in the 7th District,” said Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) in the last City Council meeting. “They have had the resources in that community and they were able to drive violent crime way down.”