Cook County board president introduces new gun control ordinance

Ciara McCarthy, Reporter

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced the members of a violence prevention committee Wednesday after advancing several other gun-control measures this past week.

Preckwinkle introduced a “lost and stolen” ordinance Jan. 16, which would require gun owners in Cook County to notify the sheriff’s office within 48 hours if their guns were lost, destroyed, transferred or stolen. Failure to comply with the ordinance would result in a $1,000 fine for the first violation, $1,500 for the second and $2,000 for the third.

Preckwinkle’s proposed ordinance came on the same day the Cook County Board passed a resolution encouraging the Illinois General Assembly to approve statewide bans on assault weapons and large-sized ammunition magazines.

Preckwinkle continued her anti-gun violence agenda this week, announcing members of the county’s Violence Prevention, Intervention, and Reduction Advisory Committee on Wednesday. In the 2013 Budget, Cook County appropriated $2 million in grants to violence prevention nonprofits that have existed for at least three years. Now that Preckwinkle has named members to the committee, it can begin to advise how the $2 million should be distributed.

The ordinance and the committee are both part of Preckwinkle’s anti-gun violence agenda, an issue that has gained renewed attention in light of an increase in homicides in Chicago and several mass shootings across the country.

Owen Kilmer, Preckwinkle’s spokesperson, said the measure was a common-sense law that would close a loophole in the current firearm legislation.

The ordinance is co-sponsored by Commissioners Jesus Garcia, John Daley, Edwin Reyes and Larry Suffredin, who represents the 13th district, including Evanston.

The majority of Preckwinkle’s gun control efforts, and the proposed ordinance in particular, have met opposition from the Illinois State Rifle Association, among other groups.

Richard Pearson, ISRA’s executive director, said the ordinance is a violation of private gun owner’s rights.

“We’re opposed to the ordinance because it turns law-abiding citizens into defendants in a court case if their firearm is lost or stolen,” he said.

Pearson added the ordinance would put the focus on gun owners instead of criminal activity.

Kilmer emphasized this ordinance would not punish the average gun owner.

“This ordinance doesn’t take a single gun out of law-abiding citizen’s hands,” he said. “It’s just stepping up enforcement.”

The ordinance and the committee both target the prevalence of straw purchases, in which individuals legally purchase guns that are distributed illegally to people engaged in criminal activity, Klimer said.

“Whether it’s providing needed resources to community groups working on the front lines, recommending an effective and evidence-based approach to gun court in Cook County or deterring straw purchases, I am confident that this group will work to bring about meaningful change,” Preckwinkle said in a news release.

According to a news release, the committee will investigate how gun crimes go through the county court system and focus on straw purchases.

Kilmer said Preckwinkle will continue to advocate for laws that will decrease gun violence, including stricter measures on the state level like closing a loophole regarding gun show weapons purchases.

Correction: A previous version of this story omitted a co-sponsor of the ordinance, commissioner Jesus Garcia. The story has been updated to include Mr. Garcia. The Daily regrets the error.