UChicago study shows need for tougher gun punishments - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Emanuel pushes for tougher gun penalties, UChicago study shows need

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Mayor Emanuel is pushing state lawmakers for tougher gun penalties to help stop the violence, putting Chicago at the tipping point.

Emanuel joined gun violence survivors to support a bill which will increase penalties for gun crimes.

Under House Bill 22-65, anyone convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a gun would have to serve at least 85% of a three year sentence.

"We have at least 108 examples of shootings or murders in 2013 alone that would not have happened if this bill were already law---five of those examples from last week alone," Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a Tuesday press conference.

McCarthy says he's seen enough, adding that if a suspected gang member or felon is carrying a gun, they're going to take it out and use it. He says that 5,600 guns have been recovered, turned in or taken off the streets of Chicago and out of the hands of people who should not have them.

"Every day I wake up I realize, I'm in a world without her without her life, without here laughter without her love," mother Cleopatra Pendleton said of her daughter, Hadiya, who was gunned down while hanging out in a park after school. "I wonder if mandatory minimums had been in place, a larger one had been in place, if the person that allegedly shot and killed my daughter would have been in jail---would my daughter still be alive?"

Chicago police officer Thomas Wortham was killed in 2010 after having dinner with his parents. They lived in Chatham, he was shot in front of a park he tried to make safe for children.

"Three years ago, we lost our son Thomas to gun violence and Tommy would be here today possibly if this law had been in place," mother Carolyn Wortham said. "Making sure that the penalties for illegal gun possession and usage act as a deterrent that they need to be---which they aren't today."

According the University of Chicago, the bill could prevent more than 400 violent crimes a year.

The University of Chicago study says that oftentimes, the people who are arrested for unlawful use of a weapon get a slap on the wrist for that offense and go on to be re-arrested in murder cases. The results say that's four times more likely to be the scenario, and they are nine times more likely to be locked up for another lethal shooting.

The results were released at the same time as news of Martin Luther King III and Reverend Al Sharpton's plans to spend a great deal of time on the West Side. The two nationally recognized civil rights leaders hope to shed more light on the escalating violence.

King is planning to move into an apartment building on the West Side. Sharpton is expected to stay with him one day a week for the next two or three months, and commute to and from New York during that time.

Emanuel and McCarthy are more than happy to have a conversation with both civil rights leaders - anything to battle the problem with guns and violence here in the city.

But not everyone thinks the new bill will work.

Mariame Kaba is with project NIA. Its goal is putting an end to youth incarceration. Organizers say young offenders don't need more jail time.

"For me it's almost like an opportunity to be able to grandstand and pander because it's actually not going to make a difference," Kaba says. "He shouldn't be closing our schools and having our kids be displaced in the way they have. He better be investing in jobs and opportunities for young people."

The organizer with project NIA says under sentencing guidelines, judges can sentence a defendant to boot camp or some other kind of program if they're caught with an illegal weapon. Under this proposal, judicial discretion would be gone.

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