City Council examines assault weapons ban, Safe Passage - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

City Council passes changes to assault weapons ban, Safe Passage

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago is at the tipping point when it comes to violence. In a rare special session, City Council unanimously passed two new ordinances on Wednesday, which were designed to increase safety.

The changes will increase penalties for weapons violations near schools, or along safe passage routes.

"We have enough violence in our city as it is. If they want to do something like this, they need to move to the latter part of the state of Illinois, where they welcome those types of guns," Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) said. "Here in Chicago we need these efforts to save our children as we just said to those two young ladies. It take as village to raise a child, Chicago ought to become the village."

The Wednesday special session follows Illinois' concealed carry legislation that was made law last week. State legislators had to comply with a federal appeals court order after it found the state's last-in-the-nation concealed carry ban unconstitutional.

The new state law gives municipalities 10 days to come up with new or updated legislation.

Chicago already has an assault weapons ban that prohibits the sale, possession and import of the weapons and high-capacity magazines. Now, there are more than 150 specific weapons that are prohibited, including:

  • any semiautomatic rifle or handgun that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine and has at least one military feature
  • any shotgun that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine, has at least one military feature, or has a fixed capacity of more than five rounds
  • any weapon with a fixed magazine of more than 15 rounds.

Military features include telescoping stocks, pistol grips, grenade launchers, barrel shrouds and other features.

Penalties will remain the same as the current law, and any person who violates the law would be fined not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000 and incarcerated not less than 90 days nor more than 180 days.

Gun rights activists say this type of ordinance will not help the city's violence problems.

"These are not the law abiding gun owners that are committing these crimes," the NRA's Legislative Liaison Todd Vandermyde says. "They're criminals, they're gang bangers, there are people who are trafficking firearms illegally across state lines."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to add a provision for safety zones around schools, among other things. He's pushed to close 50 schools and parents' safety concerns linger.

"We all have a role to play in building safe communities," Emanuel said. "That includes keeping weapons designed for the battlefield off our streets and punishing those who carry or use weapons around school children with stiff penalties."

The ordinance creates Student Safety Zones that will include:

  • Safe passage routes during designated operating hours (Operating hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. If there is a school activity after 7 p.m., the associated safe passage route will be in effect until 60 minutes after the school activity ends)
  • School buildings during designated operating hours (Operating hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. If there is a school activity after 7 p.m., the zone will be in effect until 60 minutes after the school activity ends)
  • Within 1000 feet of school buildings
  • Public parks, where any portion of the park is within 1000 feet of a school building
  • School buses

The ordinance will also increase penalties for gun and weapons crimes that put students at greatest risk.

"Today's votes are the right things to do. I also believe while or police are doing the right work, we're investing in unprecedented levels, a 30% increase in or after-school programs, 18,000 kids in summer jobs," Emanuel said. "One of the biggest increases in the city's history with no federal or state additional assistance, in fact a reduction in their numbers, but we stepped up."

If a person is convicted of , possession of an illegal gun or other dangerous weapon, the offender would be subject to the following enhanced penalties:

1st Tier Crimes: Assault weapons and high capacity magazines

  • First offense: 120 days to 6 months jail time, with a fine range of $1,000-$5,000
  • Second offense: 150 day to 6 months jail time, with a fine range of $5,000-$15,000
  • Third offense or more: Mandatory 6 months jail time, with a fine range of $10,000- $20,000

2nd Tier Crimes: Possession of silencer/laser sight accessory for a firearm

  • First offense: 30 days to 6 months jail time, with a fine range of. $1,000-$5,000
  • Second offense: 90 days to 6 months jail time, with a fine range of $5,000-$15,000
  • Third offense: Mandatory 6 months jail time, with a fine range of $10,000-$20,000

3rd Tier Crimes: Dangerous weapons other than firearm

  • First offense: 30 days to 6 months jail time, with a fine range of $500-$1,000
  • Second offense: 90 days to 6 months jail time, with a fine range of $1,000-$2,000

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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