Mayor Rahm Emanuel Pushes For Tougher Gun Possession Penalties

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and law enforcement personnel are seeking to toughen Illinois gun possession laws.

Emanuel is seeking to increase minimum sentencing requirements for people convicted of gun possession from one year to three years in prison, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

The mayor and prosecutors are also seeking to require that anyone convicted of felony gun possession to serve 85 percent of their sentences. Currently, someone convicted of a gun charge may only be required to fulfill half their sentence before being released early after earning “good time” in prison.

If the mayor has his way, these changes to gun possession penalties would keep Chicago streets safer by locking up law breakers for a longer period of time and also deterring potential lawbreakers with the serious penalties.

Proponents of these new gun laws have pointed to tougher laws in states like New York which has a three-and-a-half-year mandatory minimum sentence for illegal gun possession, reports the Sun-Times. Many experts point to this tougher law, passed in 2007, as explaining the dramatic decrease in New York City’s crime rate.

Meantime, Chicago is dealing with more violence, much of it related to guns. Last year, the city had 506 murders. This is three times as many murders per capita as in New York. In addition, 85 percent of murders in Chicago involve a gun. In New York, only 60 percent of murders involve a gun, writes the Sun-Times.

Opponents of the tougher gun laws primarily point to financial reasons to oppose the law. They cite the costs of housing a criminal and the financial burden of creating higher mandatory minimum sentences. This is especially true for individuals who may face the three-year prison sentence even though they have a clean record and never before committed a crime.

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