Before the city council approved a revised gun ordinance Wednesday, 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke wondered aloud when Congress would finally have municipal government's back when it comes to gun reform.
Burke--who often gives lengthy, anecdotal speeches when commenting on legislation--pointed to last week's shooting massacre in Aurora, Colo. to illustrate that local gun laws can easily be skirted.
"We've got probably one of the toughest municipal gun laws in the nation, and to think that some unbalanced person can get on the Internet and order a gun that holds 100 rounds, and obtain that over the Internet with no regulation ... is preposterous," Burke said.
He was referring to James Holmes, the Colorado suspect in the massacre who allegedly purchased automatic weapons over the Internet and used them to kill 12 people.
"Come on Congress, get real and figure out how to balance responsible, legitimate ownership of firearms," Burke said.
Chicago Congressmen Danny Davis and Mike Quigley--both of whom support the idea of stricter federal gun regulation--said Congress isn't going to be passing comprehensive gun reform anytime soon.
It's also an election year. And in congressional districts where the Second Amendment is as fundamental a right as freedom of speech, "if you don't have a 100 percent [pro-gun] voting record, you're going to lose your primary," Quigley told The Chicago Reporter, underscoring the influence gun-rights groups have on elections and, subsequently, congressional votes.
During a speech on the U.S. House floor days after the Colorado shooting, Quigley called for a "conversation" about gun reform. See the video below.
Quigley tried to appeal to his House colleagues by pointing to a number of gun tragedies in recent years, and to Chicago's skyhigh murder rate.
Still, regardless of whether his fellow congressmen agree with him, Quigley said he is sure the issue will go nowhere any time soon.
Chicago's murder rate is proof that strict, local gun laws aren't a silver bullet when it comes to curbing gun violence.
Chicago's laws can easily be skirted by purchasing weapons on the Web, or traveling to a nearby state like Indiana, where a person can purchase a firearm without a background check at a gun show.
"You could have a mental illness, you can be on a terrorist watch list," said Quigley, in reference to the loophole in Indiana state law, which otherwise requires background checks.
Both Quigley and Davis said they would like to see federal legislation that also bans assault weapons.
"You don't need anything that's firing 25 or 30 shots at a time," Davis said.
Davis also said he supports Emanuel's new gun ordinance, and also backed former Mayor Richard M. Daley's ardent defense of the handgun ban--a position Daley was forced to modify after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the city's law unconstitutional.
"I was very disappointed when the Supreme Court struck down that law," Davis said. "If there are fewer guns available, then there is going to be a reduction in people being shot."
There is no strong evidence supporting the idea that the city's longstanding handgun ban curbed street violence. Reports revealed that the law rarely resulted in convictions, and gun-related violence has long been a problem in Chicago.
When asked about these facts, Davis said, "It takes time for the legislation to work."
"Well, a lot of these people aren't getting shot with handguns, they're getting shot with those, you know, rat-ah-tat-tat ones," said Davis, doing a machine-gun impersonation in reference to assault weapons.
© Community Renewal Society 2012
Tags: background checks, Chicago murder rate, Colorado shooting, congress, Danny Davis, Ed Burke, gun reform, gun shows, gun violence, guns, Indiana gun law, Jane Byrne, Mike Quigley, Murder, murder rates, Rahm Emanuel, Richard Daley