Black Democratic lawmakers in Illinois say a measure that would harshly punish those illegally caught with a firearm in their possession in multiple instances will harm African-American residents in Chicago.
According to Chicago’s WTTW, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson praised the measure Monday following its passage in the state house. But with the backing of other black caucus members, Rep. Thaddeus Jones used a procedural maneuver, known as a “motion to reconsider,” to stall the bill.
“We believe this bill is incomplete in its current formation. We are seeking to work on a holistic solution that includes revenue to impacted communities that will fully fund violence prevention programs, enhance public educational opportunities, job programs while also allowing police officers the tools needed to properly identify gun offenders,” Jones said in a statement. “We believe gun violence should be declared a public health crisis and we will review the timetable on the hold and will work for a better solution. This bill does not provide that solution.”
Members of the black caucus argued that the statewide plan is actually meant to target the violence in Chicago. They say the city’s police force is more of the problem, claiming their use of excessive force is too often used against minority residents.
Additionally, the lawmakers say that they should be looking at recruiting more police to catch shooters.
“It just goes to show you how racist all of this is,” Chicago Democratic Rep. Mary Flowers said, adding that violence is a result of “systemic racism” that keeps blacks economically impoverished.
Rick Ector, a black firearms instructor who teaches residents in Detroit how to handle firearms safely told The Daily Caller in a statement, “I am in agreement with the sentiment apparently voiced by Mayor Emanuel and Police Commissioner Johnson. One strong and direct way to cut violent crime is to hold offenders of gun accountable when they are caught. Giving violators enhanced sentences would send a strong message and give the law enforcement community tools to safeguard the public.”
The State House’s senior Republican, Minority Leader Jim Durkin, called the delay “unfortunate” and told WTTW, “This is the kind of stuff we expect, unfortunately, in these last waning hours of the legislature. It’s just gamesmanship,” he said. “I’ve bent over backwards on this legislation to give many accommodations to the Black Caucus … at some point you’ve got to be reasonable.”