CHICAGO – Continuing the effort to protect Illinoisans from gun violence, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, and the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) led a march against violence through the Englewood neighborhood today and renewed their call for members of the Illinois General Assembly to pass a statewide Assault Weapons Ban. Today’s march follows the tragic murders of two Englewood youths, Starkesia Reed age 14, and Siretha White age 10. Early reports indicate that both children were killed by assault weapons that would be illegal to buy, own, or sell in Illinois under the proposed ban.
“Time and time again, we’ve seen the tragedy that gun violence wreaks on families and on entire communities. It is inexcusable that Washington allowed the assault weapons ban to expire. And it is inexcusable that some members of the General Assembly in Springfield are too afraid of the NRA to do the right thing and ban assault weapons in Illinois. How many more tragedies do we have to live through before we ban assault weapons? The General Assembly must pass the ban on assault weapons,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
House Bill 2414, sponsored by state Rep. Eddie Acevedo (D-Chicago), would prohibit the manufacture, possession, and delivery of semiautomatic assault weapons, assault weapon attachments, large capacity ammunition feeding devices, and the .50 caliber rifle. Other banned weapons would include UZIs, Colt AR-15s, and TEC-DC9s.
Under the proposed legislation, possession of a .50 caliber rifle or assault weapon would be a Class 3 felony for a first violation, carrying a sentence of 2-5 years; and a Class 2 felony, carrying a sentence of 3-7 years, for a second or subsequent violation or for having 2 or more weapons at once.
Assault weapons fire bullets rapidly and can fire at multiple targets, making them ideal for military use. For example, the larger magazines allow a shooter to fire 20, 50, or even 100 rounds without having to reload. Assault weapons have a high level of firepower, can penetrate body armor, and therefore pose a significant threat to police as well as innocent bystanders.
In September 2004, leaders in Washington D.C. allowed the federal assault weapons ban to expire, despite promises from President Bush that he would renew the law. Since the federal ban was lifted, the Chicago Police Department has seized over 500 assault weapons, 400 in 2005 alone. In fact, just this past New Year’s Eve, the Chicago Police Department recovered 22 weapons, including an AK 47 and MAC 10 with a 30 round clip and a laser sight-weapon that would be banned statewide if lawmakers pass the pending measure.