After a bloody 4th of July weekend in Chicago and deadline pressure, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called a special city council meeting to discuss gun control. Specifically, the special session would cover gun control near schools and the city's assault weapons ban, looking for ways to strengthen the legislation currently on the books.
“The state has given us a deadline to pass a new assault weapon ban, and next week I will call a special session to make sure we get it done,” Emanuel said in an announcement. “These dangerous weapons can wreak havoc in a matter of minutes as we have seen too often on our streets. They have no place in our city, and we’ll do whatever is necessary to make sure we have a strong law in place.”
During the special session, the council will consider two gun ordinance proposals, which were introduced during the last Chicago City Council meeting. The first involves keeping Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students safe, particularly the 30,000 affected by the district's closure and consolidation of 49 schools after the city's Board of Education voted to shutter 50 over the next two years. The ordinance would create school safety zones that would install strong penalties for possessing a gun within 1,000 feet of a school or park as well as on buses and student travel routes on school days between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Anyone convicted of having a gun, ammunition or other “dangerous weapons” in school safety zone would face fines and other penalties. The penalties include: a $1,000 to $5,000 fine and mandatory 30-day jail time, with a possible six-month sentence, on the first offense; $5,000 to $15,000 fine in addition to at least 90 days in jail, with a possible six-month sentence, on the second offense; and a $10,000 to $20,000 fine and a mandatory six-month jail sentence on the third offense.
The second ordinance would strengthen the current assault weapons ban, adding a number of new weapons to the law and certain military-like accessories including telescopes, grenade launchers and pistol grips.
“We took a look at the latest in gun technology and broadened the definition of assault weapons,” a top mayoral aide told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Tweaks to the assault weapons ban look to prohibit any semiautomatic rifle or handgun that can accept a detachable magazine and has at least one military feature. Shotguns that allow for a detachable magazine, have at least one military feature or a fixed capacity of more than five rounds would also be banned under the ordinance. Also, any weapon with a fixed magazine of more than 15 rounds would be prohibited.
Emanuel is under deadline pressure to make changes to the assault weapons ban based on provisions outlined in the concealed carry bill. As part of the bill, sponsored by State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), Illinois municipalities will have 10 days after the bill is signed to pass a new or updated assault weapons measure. Click through for more specifics on the bill, HB 183.
The state legislature is currently grappling with the governor's amendatory veto of the bill. The House voted this morning to override the veto, and the Senate is set to take up the issue later today.
The special council meeting will take place July 17. Read Progress Illinois' report on the two ordinances the council will consider here.