Photo: Gun Violence
Gutierrez: “Chicago has been in the center of the debate on gun control. I have fought since my earliest days in Congress for sensible gun control legislation. And I am glad that we are finally revisiting this important topic of public safety after horrific mass shootings like Newtown, CT, and Aurora, CO, and Tucson, AZ, and the ‘slow moving massacre’ that continues on the streets of Chicago and around the country each day. Too many of our precious young children are being claimed by gun violence – much of it with handguns.”
When he returns to Washington on Tuesday, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) will introduce legislation to curb the sale and trafficking of junk guns, the cheap handguns, sometimes known as “Saturday Night Specials” responsible for a huge percentage of the deaths and injuries in Chicago and around the nation. Rep. Gutierrez, who sits on the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, made the announcement at a press conference in Chicago on Monday before holding a community meeting with Chicago clergy, community leaders and others to discuss gun-violence prevention strategies.
A one-page fact sheet on the Congressman’s proposed legislation, as well as lists of the guns most often recovered in crimes by the Federal Bureau of ATF and Chicago Police Department were also distributed to reporters at the press conference.
The following are the Congressman’s remarks at the press conference, as prepared for delivery, held at La Capilla Del Barrio/The Neighborhood Chapel in Chicago at 10:00 am CT on Monday.
A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with concerned pastors and community leaders and victims of gun violence to discuss steps that we can take to address the problem of gun violence in our community. As part of the outcome of that dialogue, today I am announcing that I will be reintroducing federal legislation to ban the sale of junk guns.
This is an issue that has been important to me for many years. It was one of the first bills that I introduced in Congress. In 2011, 97 percent of the shootings that occurred in Chicago were done with handguns. Junk guns, are a particularly notorious subset of handguns. They are small and easily concealable and manufactured from cheaper and weaker materials and metals, which makes them prone to misfire and malfunction. In spite of being widely considered unsuitable for self-defense or sporting, they are very popular crime guns.
You can see to the side here the top ten most traced crime guns from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from 2000. Five of the ten guns pictured are junk guns. You can also see here, a list of the most recovered handguns by the Chicago Police Department from 2008-2010. You can see the problem of these notorious and dangerous handguns has persisted – dangerously – through the years. Removing this dangerous subset of handguns from streets of Chicago and communities across the country will save lives.
Now, we have had for many years a set of basic design and safety standards to regulate handguns that are imported to the United States. What has been absent are similar standards for domestically manufactured handguns, essentially allowing an unregulated market to flourish for these weapons. That is why my bill would ban junk guns and require that these handguns manufactured in the U.S. meet the same standards of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as the handguns we import. When we regulate standards for cars and cribs and a whole host of products to ensure they are safe for public consumption – how does it make sense that we do not have basic safety standards for dangerous handguns made right here in America?
Now, Chicago has been in the center of the debate on gun control. I have fought since my earliest days in Congress for sensible gun control legislation. And I am glad that we are finally revisiting this important topic of public safety after horrific mass shootings like Newtown, CT, and Aurora, CO, and Tucson, AZ, and the “slow moving massacre” that continues on the streets of Chicago and around the country each day. Too many of our precious young children are being claimed by gun violence – much of it with handguns.
Over half of the firearms traced by the Chicago Police come from outside the State of Illinois. So while we know that the efforts of the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police are important in addressing crime and preventing gun violence – many of these weapons are brought from neighboring states, and particularly from some of the Southern states like Mississippi. Setting a basic federal standard will help all of our children, whether they live in Illinois or anywhere else.
I think that this legislation is especially timely as the Illinois State Legislature debates state conceal and carry legislation. While state legislators are grappling with sensible safeguards and restrictions for a conceal and carry law, I think we all know that the demand for small and easily concealable handguns in the state is likely to grow. Now is the time to remove the most unsafe handguns from the market.
I thank the pastors and community leaders who are here today and engaging all elected officials and citizens on the importance of sensible gun control. They have witnessed the heartache and suffering of families who have lost a loved one to handgun violence. I believe that we have a moral obligation to find solutions to the pervasive problem of gun violence and I look forward to continuing to work with them on additional ways that we can address related issues like unemployment, safe schools that contribute to strengthening our community and preventing violence.
The Congressman will formally introduce his bill on Tuesday when he returns to Washington and is continuing a dialogue he started with concerned clergy and community leaders who have come together to develop strategies to prevent gun violence.