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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 28, 1999

Ryan, Daley, Illinois Police Chiefs Call For Illinois Citizens To Urge State Senators To Pass Safe Neighborhoods Act

CHICAGO -- Gov. George H. Ryan stepped up his call for the Illinois Senate to pass the new Safe Neighborhoods Act which includes making illegal possession of a firearm a felony after seeing the more than 600 guns seized from criminals by Chicago Police since Dec. 2.

The Governor urged every citizen to contact their state senator and ask them to pass the new crime-fighting package with the felony charge for the unlawful use of a weapon. Joining Ryan at the news conference at the Chicago Police First District Headquarters were Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley; Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard; Illinois State Police Director Sam Nolan; Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police President Russell Laine, and mayors and law enforcement leaders from around the state.

The seized weapons on display included AK-47s, semi-automatic weapons and "Saturday Night Special" hand guns.

"These are not hunting weapons," Ryan said. "You don't hunt deer or ducks with an Uzi or a Glock."

The Governor noted that the Safe Neighborhoods Act reduced the number of illegal weapons seized on Chicago's streets by more than half over the four years it was in effect -- from more than 22,000 to about 11,000 illegal guns seized.

But, since the Safe Neighborhoods Act was ruled unconstitutional for a legislative technicality on Dec. 2, criminals arrested for illegally carrying weapons have only faced misdemeanor charges. Ryan said that illustrates the urgent need to pass the new Safe Neighborhoods Bill.

"These weapons were seized from people looking to do harm, dangerous criminals who are now out on the street with a slap on the wrist," Ryan said.

Ryan urged Illinois citizens to call their state senators to urge them to vote for the Safe Neighborhoods Act which makes illegal possession of a weapon a felony.

"Gun violence is an issue that we in Illinois must come to terms with before society is decimated by bullets and frozen with fear," Ryan said. "The Illinois House has overwhelmingly passed the Safe Neighborhoods law. It's up to the Senate to follow this responsible action."



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