The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that the Chicago City Council and the Cook County Board of Commissioners have passed what may be the strictest gun-safety laws in the state of Illinois. One county measure bans all gun sales to people under 21 years of age (by contrast, the state of Illinois allows anyone 18 and up to buy rifles and shotguns, and anyone 21 and up to buy handguns). Another new measure requires every gun that a child could access to be stored with a trigger lock in a locked container separate from ammunition or on the owner’s person at all times; the city council passed a similar requirement.
They have rather broad definitons of “child.” The city requires child-safe storage if anyone in the house is under 18 years old; the county, anyone under 21. Both measures go well beyond state law, which requires child-safety precautions for gun storage only if anyone in the house is under 14. Moreover, both the city and the county will now impose fines on anyone observed with an improperly secured firearm that a minor could access. By contrast, Illinois only punishes a gun owner for child-safety violations if a child actually acquires the gun and uses it to kill or maim someone.
Democrats hastened to pass the measures in advance of a Friday deadline imposed by the state’s new concealed-carry law, itself the product of a court-ordered deadline following the Supreme Court’s ruling in McDonald v. Chicago, which decreed that the Second Amendment right to bear arms obtains with regard to state and local jurisdictions. Not all of the legislators involved are confident that the restrictions will pass muster in court. Commissioner John Fritchey, a Democrat of Chicago, voted for the bill but admitted to the Tribune, “We may unfortunately be inviting litigation we can do without.” He also questioned the legality of a high-capacity magazine ban, another new county regulation. At the time of this posting, Fritchey has not responded to my requests for comment.
I spoke with Commissioner Timothy Schneider, a Republican from Streamwood, who voted against the measure, and asked him to explain his opposition to the bill. Schneider responded, “I voted against it because I don’t think either one of these measures passed on Wednesday is going to reduce the number of people getting killed or wounded in Chicago city streets.” He continued:
All these rules will be aimed at law-abiding gun owners and will have no effect on street crime. Do you really think the gang member is going to look at our laws and restrictions and not go out and buy that gun? Of course not. We need to figure out what we can do to curb the gang activity and the heroin activity in Chicago; we shouldn’t be targeting law-abiding gun owners.
According to the Tribune, Schneider also decried the increased age restrictions in the county bill, noting that an 18-year-old could join the military and serve in combat but could not obtain a license to carry a weapon at home (except at a shooting range or while hunting in the company of someone 21 or older). Commissioner Peter Silvestri (R., Ellwood Park) sounded a similar note in opposition, according to the Chicago Herald: “You can go to war at 18, but you can’t buy a gun at 18.”
Meanwhile, today’s Chicago Tribune rounds up last night’s casualties.
A man was shot to death in the South Loop and another man was killed in Lawndale in attacks across Chicago that also wounded five other people, including a 16-year-old boy.
Andre Button, 33, of Dolton was shot around 11:25 p.m. Thursday as he sat in a parked car near 15th Place and Indiana Avenue in the South Loop, police said. He tried to drive away and crashed into two parked cars on Prairie Avenue.
Button was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead there at 12:01 a.m., authorities said. . . .
In other shootings:
• A 16-year-old boy was shot in the chest in Englewood about 4:15 a.m. Friday, police said. The boy was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in serious condition.
• Just two blocks away a few hours earlier, a 24-year-old man was shot in the ankle near 63rd and Paulina streets in the West Englewood neighborhood. Two men stepped out of a white van about 12:45 a.m. and opened fire, Police News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro said.
• Another man walked into Advocate Trinity Hospital with a gunshot wound about 1:30 a.m., Alfaro said. The man had been on his porch, across the street from where a fight was taking place, when someone opened fire. He suffered a leg wound.
• A man was wounded about 1:30 p.m. in the 400 block of East 69th Street in the Park Manor neighborhood, according to Police News Affairs Officer Joshua Purkiss. The man suffered a wound to his buttocks and was taken to Stroger Hospital.
• A 22-year-old man was shot in the leg about 3:30 p.m. in the 3000 block of North Allen Avenue in the Logan Square neighborhood. The man was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.
Eight Chicagoans were shot Thursday night, plus another seven on Tuesday night and Wednesday. Just another summer week in the city and county with the toughest gun laws in Illinois.