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Mayor Emanuel Backs Stricter Gun Control Legislation

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According to an article from NBC Chicago, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling for stricter punishments for those convicted of illegal gun possession in Illinois. The mayor spoke to the public in a City Hall press conference and was joined by Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. The three leaders are backing a new legislation to strengthen state gun laws. The statement from Mayor Emanuel and the introduction of the proposed legislation comes in the wake of ongoing crime problems and gun violence in Chicago.

Here are some facts and details about the mayor's comments and the proposed legislation:

* Currently, felons who are convicted of illegal gun possession receive a sentence of two years. However, Alvarez commented that offenders typically serve only a year for the crime, but sometimes even less because of day credits for good behavior, noted the New York Times.

* Mayor Emanuel referenced a New York law that requires a 3 1/2-year sentence, in which violators are required to serve at least 85 percent of that sentence. Such a law helps keep offenders off the streets for longer periods of time, which McCarthy said could help prevent violent crimes.

* A city press release reported that the legislation being proposed includes increasing the penalty for felons in possession of firearms from two years to three years. Repeat offenders would get a minimum sentence of five years.

* Those convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon without a valid FOID card while carrying a loaded gun would see the minimum sentence increase from one year to three years.

* Illinois would follow New York's model and require these specific gun crime offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.

* Mayor Emanuel stated, "Criminals continue to escape with minor sentences for possessing and using firearms, and these light penalties do not reflect the severity of their crimes nor the damage they cause our communities. Increasing these penalties and requiring minimum sentences will ensure criminals are held accountable and discourage criminals from carrying and using guns."

* State Sen. Tony Munoz, D-Chicago, will be sponsoring the bill in the Illinois General Assembly.

* The proposed legislation could be considered in Springfield as early as the spring session and will be one of many other proposals aimed at curbing violence by increasing gun control, according to the Chicago Tribune.

* A concern regarding the proposal is that it could result in further burdening of the Illinois prison system at a time when the state is closing down facilities to save money.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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