The circus of the 2016 election season is just starting to wind down. We’ve seen candidates endure emotional debates about a variety of issues that are affecting our country, including immigration, foreign policy, gun control, and the economy.
However, none of these issues seems to hit home more for Chicago residents than gun control. It’s no secret: we have a gun violence problem in our city.
By mid-September Chicago already had 522 gun homicides, and over 3,000 people had been shot. August alone saw 93 deaths from guns – that’s more than three people killed every day from gun violence. It was the most violent month that Chicago has seen in over 20 years.
Not surprisingly, all of this gun violence has led to a lot of talking about how to fix the problem. What can be done to reduce it? Will limitations on what guns are allowed in the city and how citizens obtain them help? Will an increase in gun control laws and restrictions actually increase the number of gun crimes? Will an increase in guns decrease the amount of gun violence, allowing “good guys” to stand up to “bad guys” in the case of a mass shooting? Do gun control measures violate the Second Amendment? Is this something we are willing to sacrifice in order to reduce the amount of injuries and deaths that have been caused by guns?
Perhaps more important than those questions, though, is what lawmakers actually will do. With the election now behind us, it’s the perfect time to take a look at what they’ve said. We’re going to detail how our Illinois lawmakers feel about gun legislation in Chicago, across Illinois, and throughout the country.
What Our Lawmakers Propose
Senator-Elect Tammy Duckworth: Last week, Illinois elected Tammy Duckworth to the United States Senate. The current U.S. Representative and Iraq War veteran has consistently been an advocate of tighter gun control laws. During her Congressional career, she has attended sit-ins in order to demand the House to vote on gun control, and signed petitions asking that more background checks be put into place to add more scrutiny to the gun-buying process.
Duckworth has called Chicago’s gun problem “an epidemic of gun violence that is horrific.” She has also been quoted saying that she was “willing to go duck hunting or to a rifle range with anyone who wanted to talk about gun legislation.”
Senator Dick Durbin: Democrat Dick Durbin stays in his position, and will fight with Tammy Duckworth to further gun control measures in the Senate. Previously, Durbin has voted yes on closing the “gun show” loophole and barring anyone who has been suspected of terrorism in the past 5 years from buying a gun. However, he voted “no” to several Republican-authored measures on gun control.
House of Representatives: Illinois elected 11 Democrats and 7 Republicans to the House of Representatives during this election. One of those elected representatives is Luis V. Gutiérrez, who has introduced multiple pieces of legislation to ban the use of military-grade weapons and address poorly made handguns (a common weapon used in gun violence).
State Congressional Elections: Democrats continue to hold the majority of Senate and House of Representatives seats in Illinois. While typically a Democratic majority signals gun control laws could be on the horizon, Democrats held the majority when Illinois legalized concealed carry in 2014. After concealed carry was passed, a majority of bills introduced have been aimed at loosening requirements rather than tightening them. Most likely, this means that Illinois will continue to fight to loosen requirements on where you can carry a gun.
What This Means for You
As mentioned above, even with a Democratic majority in our state, gun owners have actually seen increased freedoms in recent years. Those tides don’t seem like they’re turning any time soon, but if Chicago’s high murder rate continues it’s worth paying attention to.
For the time being, if you exercise your right to bear arms, you can still do so with Illinois’s concealed carry laws. Open carry remains illegal, but concealed carry (with the proper permit) offers you quite a bit of leeway.
Always remember, though, if you are charged with a crime that involves a firearm or other deadly weapon, the penalties will drastically increase – concealed carry permit or not. The bottom line is that having a weapon on you when a crime is being committed or using a weapon in a crime could end up putting you behind bars far longer that if no weapon was involved.
That doesn’t mean you should take charges lying down, though. If you’ve been charged with a crime while lawfully (or unlawfully) carrying a weapon, the best way to protect your freedom and future is to contact a Chicago defense lawyer today.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.