052213br0367r“Although I led initial negotiations on this bill, I cannot support it in its final version”

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the Senate’s passage of concealed-carry legislation:

"Today the House and Senate passed House Bill 183, moving it to the governor’s desk. Although I led initial negotiations on this bill, I cannot support it in its final version. Illinois’ hand was forced on the issue of concealed-carry by a federal court’s mandate, but this legislation does not include reasonable gun control provisions I have proposed, such as FOID Card verification and the requirement to report a lost or stolen weapon.

However, this bill does include important provisions allowing for municipalities to regulate guns with some types of local gun ordinances, such as Chicago’s necessary ban on assault weapons and a ban on carrying weapons in parks or street festivals. The NRA unsuccessfully tried to strip away these good laws, along with the city’s ability to use zoning to prevent gun sales next to schools.

Upon my personal insistence, these elements of local control, along with tougher penalties on carrying while intoxicated, remain in the final bill, despite the NRA’s objections. Thus, I felt it would be inappropriate for me to cast a “no” vote. But my present vote should not be mistaken as an expression of support for the final bill.

I remain dedicated to finding alternative ways to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of people who should not have them. In fact, immediately after the vote on HB 183, I passed a separate bill – House Bill 1189 – that closes the private sale and transfer loophole by requiring a seller to verify that the buyer’s FOID Card has not been revoked. It also required a gun owner whose firearm is lost and stolen to report the loss to police within 72 hours. The enactment of common sense laws like this one is a pre-requisite for making the streets of Chicago – and all of Illinois – safer for everyone."

051713js0734rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the Springfield visit of three parents of children killed in December’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut:

"I was honored to have a personal meeting today with Mark Barden, Nicole Hockley and Francine Wheeler, all of whom lost young children in the Newtown massacre. These brave parents, who have lived the nightmare all mothers and fathers fear, came to Springfield to tell legislators that their children’s lives could have been spared had the shooter not been equipped with high-capacity magazines.

I discussed with them my legislation, Senate Bill 851, which requires private sellers of firearms to verify that the buyer’s FOID Card hasn’t been revoked. This measure also requires gun owners to report a lost or stolen firearm and tightens mental illness reporting requirements so people who are a danger to themselves or others don’t acquire deadly weapons. Mr. Barden, Ms. Hockley and Ms. Wheeler agree with me that just as Connecticut enacted commonsense gun laws in response to Sandy Hook, Illinois desperately needs to take steps now to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring here.

I salute the Sandy Hook parents for telling their story over and over, as difficult as that must be, in the hope that what happened to their children will not happen to ours. I urge my colleagues to join them in supporting commonsense gun laws."

051613br0138rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) presented his comprehensive concealed-carry plan to the Senate Executive Committee today, garnering its approval by a vote of 10-4. Raoul, tapped by Senate President John Cullerton to lead negotiations in the Senate, spent months working with gun rights advocates, gun control advocates and his colleagues across the aisle to craft a framework that balances statewide consistency and local control.

“My proposal respects our state’s diversity of gun cultures and public safety challenges while applying careful, sensible regulations statewide,” Raoul said. “The court has said that Illinois must allow law-abiding gun owners to carry in public; I say we can do that and still keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them and away from places they shouldn’t be.”

Raoul’s legislation requires a person who wants to carry a loaded gun in Chicago to apply for a separate endorsement on top of the license he or she must obtain from the state police to carry anywhere else in the state. But while Chicago police may conduct their own investigation into an applicant for the city endorsement, they may not arbitrarily deny applications or require successful applicants to meet additional criteria.

“If lawmakers do nothing, on June 9 we could have more than 200 different ordinances regulating concealed carry – one for each home rule municipality,” Raoul said. “My plan is a straightforward alternative that gives gun owners predictability while letting local governments, including Chicago, address their unique needs.”

Legislation would open the door to use of recordings in all felony investigations

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) successfully presented to his Senate colleagues a proposal that would expand the recording of police interrogations. Senate Bill 1006, which would allow a videotaped interrogation of a defendant in any felony prosecution to be used as evidence in court, was approved today with no opposition.

“Recorded interrogations serve the cause of justice, both for crime victims and for the accused,” Raoul said. “A recording allows a jury to consider a defendant’s statements to law enforcement; it will also help ensure that police conduct interviews properly, respecting the rights of the accused.”

Under current law, videotapes of custodial interrogations are admissible as evidence if they pertain to a homicide investigation. If the subject of questioning is a lesser felony, under Illinois’ eavesdropping statute the person being interviewed must give permission for the police to videotape the interrogation. In practice, most suspects refuse.

“The Senate took a significant step today toward reducing the number of wrongful convictions in Illinois,” said Emily Miller with the Better Government Association (BGA). “The BGA is proud to stand with Sen. Raoul in support of this critical reform effort.”

“Our eavesdropping laws have resulted in a situation where police stop recording if a suspect is being questioned about a homicide but begins talking about or confessing to another crime,” Raoul said. “Allowing interrogations to be recorded and used as evidence will result in a fairer and more effective criminal justice system.”

Measure allows longer sentences for offenders who organize violent mobs via web

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) secured Senate passage yesterday of legislation authorizing longer prison terms for people who use social media and other electronic means to organize violent “flash mobs.”

“To protect the public, law enforcement and criminal justice must keep pace with evolving technology,” Raoul said. “This legislation is one relatively small but important way of recognizing the potential of social media to facilitate violent crime.”

Raoul pointed to recent occurrences on the Magnificent Mile and elsewhere in Chicago when groups of young people used Twitter to coordinate crime sprees involving shoplifting, looting and assault. In another incident, gang members located and shot a young woman after she posted a picture of herself on Facebook.

“Criminal mob actions threaten public safety and discourage tourists, shoppers and hotel guests from spending money in Chicago,” Raoul said. “Because social media sites allow large groups bent on committing crimes to converge quickly and with minimal effort, it makes sense to let judges punish instigators more harshly when they organize mobs online.”