Schoenberg announces support for Rahm’s gun registry plan

Susan Du

Illinois state Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) has endorsed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to create a statewide gun registry in order to decrease gun violence, according to a news release issued Friday.

Emanuel proposed requiring gun owners to register each handgun in their possession at a fee of $65 per gun. Currently, Chicago’s gun control laws ban weapon sales in the city and prohibit people from taking guns out of their homes. For 28 years Chicago banned gun ownership entirely, until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that policy in June 2010.

Prospective Illinois gun owners must obtain a firearm owner’s identification card before purchasing any sort of gun, but Emanuel proposed that gun owners also register individual handguns, hoping it would help local law enforcement officials fight black market firearm transactions of lost or stolen guns, according to the news release.

The proposal, like many other gun control laws, is a contentious issue. Advocates of gun registration typically believe that fewer guns lead directly to less crime, though opponents may argue limiting private citizens’ gun ownership will deter their ability to protect themselves against inevitable crime.

Richard Pearson of the Illinois State Rifle Association said he is opposed to the idea of creating a statewide gun registry because of the unconstitutional nature of the request and the exorbitant fees associated with registration.

“This will not fight crime at all,” Pearson said. “Any criminal is not going to register their handgun. … So the only people this affects are the law-abiding people of Illinois, and every Illinois person would have gone through an FBI background check when they buy a firearm of any type.”

Although Colleen Daley, executive director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, said she doesn’t know if the proposed legislation will curb black-market gun sales, the law could provide for stricter punishments for those caught with illegal firearms, in turn deterring criminal possession of guns.

“If you get caught with an unregistered firearm and you get a felony, you’re going to remember that,” she said. “That’s on your record.”

Daley said she believes Emanuel’s proposal is “a great idea” as a first step to solving gun violence problems throughout the state.

Both Pearson and Daley said the gun proposal controversy is not partisan, but opinions are split between upstate and downstate politicians. While the Chicago metropolitan area has historically supported gun control laws, southern Illinois politicians including state Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign)and William Haine (D-Alton) tend to vote against them.

“In Illinois, it’s not a Democrat or Republican issue,” Daley said. “It’s a northern versus southern Illinois issue. Historically, downstate is much more pro-gun than northwestern Illinois. I’m not going to speculate as to why.”

Evanston Police spokesman Cmdr. Jay Parrott said it was too soon for EPD to determine whether it supports Emanual’s proposal because gun control is a complex issue, and he isn’t certain whether Chicago street gangs currently acquire their firearms from downstate gun launderers.

“I think we need to take a more in-depth look at how these guns were acquired … to see if the majority of these guns are from outside of Chicago and are from Illinois residents before I can make an accurate comment as to whether we support this proposal,” Parrott said. “In essence, I think what’s happening is they’re going to require all gun owners to register their guns and pay a fee per gun. I mean, for somebody that owns multiple handguns, that can become an exorbitant amount of money.”

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