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Daley unveils 'Responsible Gun Ownership' plan

July 1, 2010 3:39:22 PM PDT
Mayor Daley unveiled the city's new gun ordinance Thursday. It's Chicago's newest move to control gun purchases after a US Supreme Court decision made the city's ban on owning guns unenforceable.

The City Council's police and fire committee quickly approved the new gun ordinance. It goes before the full council Friday.

So what's included in the new ordinance? And do Chicagoans think it will help stop the violence?

The answer to that question depends on who you ask. Many of those who support Mayor Daley's newest gun ban say they would prefer an all-out prohibition of handguns in Chicago, but add some type of ban is better than nothing. Meanwhile, gun rights advocates say the latest gun control proposal is still pretty restrictive and argue that it unfairly targets legal gun owners and not the gangs and offenders responsible for the violence.

In many of Chicago's neighborhoods, residents doubt the city's newest handgun ban proposal can do much to stop the violence that claims too many victims.

"Ban the guns, period. I'm tired of seeing these kids getting shot," said Marshall Haley, Englewood resident.

Supported by other city officials and community leaders, Mayor Richard Daley unveiled his new gun control ordinance.

"Too many people can easily obtain guns in America. It's the most easy thing to get in America. It's harder to get a car license," said Marshall Haley, Englewood resident.

It's called the "Responsible Gun Ownership Ordinance" and allows only one operable firearm per household. It states that each gun owner must have a city firearms permit and a valid FOID card, and that weapons be registered with the Chicago Police Department.

The City Council's police and fire committee passed the scaled down version of the measure Thursday afternoon and -- unlike the original plan of allowing only one gun per adult in a home -- it limits registration to one handgun a month in order to better withstand any legal challenges.

"We applied the one gun per month approach. That is an approach that has been upheld in Washington, D.C.," said Mara Georges, Chicago Corporation Counsel.

The new proposal comes in quick response to replace Chicago's existing handgun ban essentially rendered unenforceable by the US Supreme Court this week. Supporters say they are not encouraging the public to buy guns.

"Having a gun that day when my son was killed would not have saved his life. Not having a gun on the streets would have saved my son's life," said Annette Holt, mother of gun violence victim.

The ordinance also bans assault weapons and gun shops. It also creates a gun offender registry.

Richard Pearson, the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, says his organization plans on reviewing the new proposal that he says doesn't really address the issue of illegal handgun possession.

"We'll be going forward and trying to do everything we can to get the problem solved so the citizens of Chicago can defend themselves," said Pearson.

But for Sylvia Duncan and Kadesha Smith, the aspiring teen musician Duncan mentors, some kind of ban is better than nothing.

"It's going to stop a lot of dreams, and kids that are already faithless and hopeless, it's going to create more hopelessness in the community," said Duncan.

The gun control measure also requires guns kept in homes with minors under the age of 18 be secured with trigger locks and in lock boxes. Prospective gun owners would face a mandatory minimum of four hours of classroom and one hour of firing range training before getting a permit.

Penalties for violating the proposed ordinance include fines of anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, and jail time from 20 days up to six months.

Aldermen vote on the issue Friday during a special session. If approved by the full City Council, the new gun ordinance would take effect in 10 days.


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