Chicago leaders tout new law amid public safety concerns
CHICAGO — With gun violence on the front page, local officials on Tuesday traveled to Hegewisch on the Far Southeast Side to remind residents Washington is trying to help.
One day after tragedy in the north suburbs, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and various public safety stakeholders celebrated Congress’ new gun legislation.
“Gun violence, obviously, is deep and widespread and pervasive,” Lightfoot said. “Gun violence knows no borders or boundaries and we saw that play out yesterday.”
Lightfoot says the new federal law helps. The Safer Communities Act, which President Joe Biden signed last month, aims to prevent dangerous people from accessing guns, as well as:
- The law boosts funding for mental health
- Expands background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21
- Funds red flag laws allowing authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people found to be dangerous
- Increases penalties for straw purchases
- Closes what’s known as the “boyfriend loophole,” barring dating partners convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing firearms rather than just spouses and former spouses
Supporters call it the most significant gun legislation in decades.
“As you know, just about a week ago, we passed the bipartisan Safe Communities Act. It’s difficult to articulate just how important the legislation is,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL).
“After you get finished praying, you got to do something, or you keep praying for the same thing over and over again,” said Father Michael Pfleger.
Added Lightfoot: “Some have criticized and said it’s not enough, but after 30 years of futility, we’ll take this step forward.”
Mayor Lightfoot, who’s now in reelection mode, calls public safety her top priority. The mayor says she is eager to discuss more resources and help fight crime. But the summer months have brought highly publicized incidents of violence, including this past weekend when a group threw fireworks and other objects at Chicago police.
“We’re charging several people with aggravated battery to a police officer,” said Chicago police Superintendent David Brown.” We’re identifying more on video analysis.”
“People are losing respect for the institutions of our democracy,” Lightfoot said. “That says to me that the people who are acting so brazenly have not only no respect for themselves, but they have no respect for institutions like the police department.”
The mayor also talked about the “toxicity of public discourse,” fueling problems. Those comments come one week after she made an obscene reference to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
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