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African-American Lawmakers Oppose Illinois Gun Sentencing Bill

"Prison Bars" by Flickr User Michael Coghlan / (CC X 2.0)

A proposal meant to address Chicago’s gun violence is being met with some strong resistance from African-American lawmakers.


The bill would lock up repeat gun offenders for longer periods. It’s been pushed by Chicago’s mayor and police superintendent for years, but there’s now increased pressure to pass something.


State Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, said there are concerns that simply putting people in prison for up to 14 years won’t have beneficial effects.


"So if we pass this bill and we get a couple of these bad apples off the streets and they’re replaced by three shooters and five guns each," he said, "we haven’t done anything."


Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, said the proposal primarily would affect minorities and compared it to the War On Drugs.


"You can’t sell to people the drug-war concept and believe that we’ve not read history," she said, "and history hasn’t given us a good idea of how this is gonna work out."


House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, the bill's primary supporter, says the measure will have GOP votes in the House. However, Republicans didn't support the bill when it passed the Senate.