Supt. Johnson: Stiffer sentences for repeat gun offenders could cut shootings in half

FOX 32 NEWS - Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says repeat gun offenders are handed too light of sentences, and a new bill could mean up to 14 years for a second gun charge in Illinois.

“Quite frankly as an African American leader, I’m disgusted and as a cop I’m angry,” Johnson said.

It’s an idea Johnson has been pushing for a year and took personally to Springfield on Thursday: tougher sentences for repeat gun offenders.

“They talk to each other, they see what is going on and once we send a strong message that if you commit these crimes repeatedly in the City of Chicago, we are going to hold you accountable. When that message gets out there, they will start putting these guns down,” Johnson said.

Johnson testified in front of a House committee and faced tough questions.

QUESTION: Is there an estimate to how many shootings whether fatal or not we might be preventing by passing this bill?

“Over time, we would cut it down to half I do believe,” Johnson answered.

The bill does not increase mandatory minimums for repeat gun offenders, but would increase sentencing guidelines for judges - up to 14 years in jail for a second gun charge.

Committee members agree something has to be done, but some doubt increased jail time is the answer to prevent crime and another year like 2016 - when 768 people were killed in the Chicago.

“I would like to see the Chicago Police Department as the forefront of pushing and supporting and advocating for other policies and measures that aren't solely sentence enhancement and penalty enhancement,” said Rep. Justin Slaughter.

“I understand them not wanting to incarcerate disproportionately more black Americans, but the simple fact is that once you make that decision to pick up a gun and shoot someone, then you should pay the consequences for it,” Johnson said.

The legislation did pass this committee Thursday afternoon and the full House may take it up as soon as Friday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel applauds the committee’s decision today, calling this bill a critical component when it comes to public safety.

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