Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants stricter fines for people caught with a gun, ammunition and other dangerous weapons near schools.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the mayor is expected to introduce an ordinance at Wednesday's city council meeting aimed to set up "school safety zones" spanning 1,000 feet of schools and parks. The zones would be active during school days from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. During those hours, school Safe Passage routes and buses would also be considered a school safety zone.
A $1,000 to $5,000 fine coupled with a mandatory 30-day jail sentence would be dealt to anyone convicted of carrying the weapons or ammunition in one of the zones on the first offense.
A $5,000 to $15,000 fine along with a mandatory three-month jail term would come with a second offense. Three-time offenders would see a $10,000 to $20,000 fine and be required to spend six months in jail.
But Illinois residents will be allowed to carry concealed guns in public with a permit in the future as a result of a federal appeals court's decision to strike down the state's ban on concealed carry back in December.
Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for Illinois' National Rifle Association, said the proposed ordinance would apply to the criminals, not to people in the future who have a permit to carry a concealed gun.
“Do you honestly see judges issuing $10,000 fines to gang-bangers,” he asked the Chicago Sun-Times' Frank Main. “Judges are letting gang-bangers off the hook with felony UUW [gun possession] convictions."
The proposed ordinance, which Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said he will likely sponsor, comes just after Chicago Public Schools officials announced a proposed $7.7 million expansion of the district's Safe Passage program.
If the move is approved by the Chicago Board of Education at its meeting today, the Safe Passage program, intended to keep kids safe while traveling to and from school, would extend to the 51 welcoming schools accepting students from 49 neighborhood schools that will not reopen next academic year.