By Benjamin Yount
One day after a third Chicago police officer was gunned down after his shift, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was in Chicago to sign the state's newest get tough on guns law.
But it is not the weekend tragedy or the spike in violence in Chicago that is most significant about the law. The legislation that requires prison time for criminals caught with a gun is one of the few gun laws that passed the legislature with broad support.
Illinois' attempts to regulate, or deregulate, guns face the same regional challenges every year. Lawmaker in Chicago want to get tough on guns, but downstaters want to allow people more freedoms. That stalemate means very few gun laws are passed.
But the legislation signed by Quinn on Monday, HB5832, passed with broad support in Springfield.
Todd Vandermyde with the Illinois State Rifle Association said the new law deals with a topic that both gun supporters and opponents can agree on. Vandermyde says no one wants bad guys to be walking around with illegal weapons.
"If you don't posses a FOID card and you're prohibited from owning a firearm, those are the people we've always said should be punished."
The governor said two recent shootings of Chicago police officers, for a total of three this year, shows the need to keep guns out of the hands of the bad guys.
"We must enact laws so that we do prevail over the gang bangers and the thugs who think they can use guns to erase human life and create great chaos in our law abiding society," said Quinn.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who earlier this summer pushed through new tougher laws for anyone who wants to legally own a handgun in Chicago, agrees. Daley said the new law and its tougher penalties is just one common sense gun law passed out of Springfield.
"Within the last two years, in addition to the [new law] we were able to pass a new state law that requires mandatory-minimum jail time for gang members caught with illegal guns. A new state law that increases penalties for shooting students on or near school grounds or public transit systems We have created a new interstate trafficking gun task force."
Vandermyde said common sense has a few definitions, but thinks there is common ground for both sides of the gun debate at the state Capitol.
"The common sense deals with punishing criminals who misuse firearms. Not punishing people who choose to exercise their Constitutionally guaranteed rights."
The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, requires a mandatory one- to three-year prison sentence for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon without an Illinois firearm registration card.