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City to Seek Tougher Gun Possession Punishments

October 10th, 2013 at 11:54 am

arrested man hands close upOn September 19, a three-year-old boy was shot in a crowded park in the Windy City alongside 12 other people, according to the Chicago Tribune. The shooting “once again drew national attention to the problem of persistent violent crime in Chicago neighborhoods where guns and drugs have seeped into daily life,” reports the Tribune. “Locally, it reignited a call from law enforcement for tougher sentences on offenders who illegally carry guns in Chicago.” The call for tougher penalties came as news agencies reported that the man responsible for the late-summer tragedy, Bryon Champ, had a history of illegal gun possession and yet had never served any time in prison for his offenses. According to the Tribune, Champ was “caught in June 2012 with a loaded semi-automatic pistol,” and though he faced up to seven years in prison, got off with a four-month boot camp program instead.

Fabio Valentini, head of criminal prosecutions for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, told the Tribune that the reason the state should seek tougher punishments for those convicted of gun possession is because the majority of people who eventually injure or kill someone with a gun have prior records. “They are people who have a history of arrests or indications they are in a gang or have done something that caused the police to respond,” he told the Tribune.

Yet just a few days after state legislators called for these stricter rules, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle spoke out “against mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes,” according to a different article in the Chicago Tribune. She said that mandatory minimum sentences would result in more people who could have been rehabilitated behind bars, making it more and more difficult for them to later lead a productive life. A spokeswoman from Preckwinkle’s office later said that the board president does, however, support the “vigorous prosecution of people who are a danger to the public,” according to the Tribune.

If you or someone you know has been accused of gun possession or a gun crime, don’t go through it alone. Contact an experienced Chicago-area criminal defense attorney today.

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