Emanuel Outlines Sweeping Gun Control Plan

Gun Sales ILChicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has put together a new plan that calls for sweeping gun control changes in an effort to reduce the growing number of gun deaths across the city.

The move may better help prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands, but it wasn’t an idea solely championed by Emanuel. In fact, Illinois had until July to come up with new gun sales laws, which were ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge back in January.

The proposal, which Emanuel coined as “essential,” offers a three-pronged solution:

  • Gun store owners could only sell a buyer one handgun per month, and a 24-hour wait period would be enforced before a person could buy a shotgun or rifle, and a 72-hour wait period on all handguns.
  • Special zoning laws would leave only a fraction of the city where dealers could sell firearms, and gun shops not be allowed to be within 500 feet of a school or park; and
  • All sales would have to be videotaped in an effort to discourage individuals from buying guns for criminals.

“There are things here that meet the standards set out by the court, but, most importantly, meet the standards set out by the law enforcement community,” said Emanuel. “The city of Chicago does not have a problem of too few guns. There are way too many guns.”

Will It Work?

While the proposal should help cut down on on the spread of illegal guns within the state, a large portion of illegal firearms enter Illinois from neighboring states with lax gun laws. States likes Indiana, Mississippi and Wisconsin all have rather weak gun control laws, making it easy for someone to drive across state lines to purchase a weapon.

Research shows that nearly 60 percent of the guns used to commit a crime in Chicago between 2009 and 2013 were purchased outside of Illinois. The Chicago PD and the University of Chicago Crime Lab said illegal guns are a big reason why the city has such a high homicide rate.

“This report shows the extent to which illegal guns are the leading factor in driving violence, the sources of those guns, and simple, reasonable steps we can take to curb the flow of illegal guns onto our streets,” Emanuel said in a press release.

There have been 774 shootings in Chicago so far this year, which is nearly identical to the rate of shootings in 2013.

Related source: The Guardian, The Huffington Post

Groups At Odds Over Proposed DUI Bill

Repeat DUIA proposed bill that would allow individuals with four DUI convictions to obtain a driver’s license to help them get to and from work has been met with support and apprehension from legislators and anti-drunk driving groups.

The bill is being championed by Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, who said her redemption bill would only give work-driving permits to individuals who have truly turned their life around. She said she was moved when a local man came to her with a plea for help.

“I listened to his story. I went with him to his AA facility, and he proved to me that he turned his life around,” said Nekritz. “How do you look someone in the eye and say ‘no’ to that? How do you say ‘no’ to a man who has changed and is just trying to be a better person? I couldn’t.”

Strict Guidelines

In order to make sure the individual is truly reformed, the bill calls for stringent conditions that must be followed in order to re-apply for a work-driving permit. A person with four DUIs must:

  • Wait five years from the date of the last DUI conviction;
  • Complete rehabilitation successfully;
  • Test sober and drug free for at least three years; and
  • Appeal to the secretary of state for the permit.

Again, the bill would only reinstate partial driving privileges. Drivers would only be allowed to drive between their home and their place of employment, and their vehicle would be outfitted with an ignition interlock device that would prevent the person from driving if alcohol is detected on their breath.

Not All In Favor

Not surprisingly, some government officials and advocacy groups are against the proposal.

“If I was in the legislature, I would vote against it. If I was the governor, I would veto it,” said former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar. “My feeling is, if a person has had four DUIs, that’s a real serious problem. After the fourth, and letting that person drive again, it poses a risk for society. Four is a lot of convictions.”

The proposal is also being met with resistance from the anti-drunk driving group Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“The current reality is that our highways today are filled with repeat DUI offenders,” said the group’s Illinois executive director. “One DUI is one too many.”

However, the advocacy group Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists is in favor of giving reformed motorists another chance.

“We feel that the goal should be to rehabilitate people,” said Rita Kreslin, the group’s executive director. “If they meet the standards to get this permit, they should be given the chance to prove that they’re going to be driving legally.”

Lt. Donnie Pridemore, who testified in favor of the bill, supported AAIM’s beliefs that as long as the individual follows all the guidelines, they should be able to apply for limited driving rights.

“Some people don’t deserve another chance, but some do,” Pridemore said. “Some people really change, and those are the people who shouldn’t be punished for the rest of their lives.”

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Heroin Use and Criminal Penalties in Illinois

Heroin in IllinoisKelly Glish, the newest attorney at Appelman & Associates, recently penned a response to an article in the Chicago Sun Times about the rampant rise in heroin use, especially among teens and young adults. Below, she explains the personal and criminal consequences of heroin use.

Recently, during a conversation with colleagues, I was surprised to hear that the drug of choice throughout suburban high schools is heroin. However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense how that came to be.

I have several friends who are grade school teachers, and I often hear about their futile attempts to communicate with parents about student misconduct, which is often met with resistance and a, “my child would never do such a thing” attitude. This type of mindset is likely the reason heroin is growing popular among high school students. Parents either don’t believe their child would do such a thing, or don’t want to accept and admit that their child is in fact using heroin. However, when it comes to heroin use, parents aren’t alone in thinking that it isn’t a problem to worry about. Local government officials recently realized that heroin is a bigger problem than they first imagined.

Realizing that heroin is a problem is the first step to getting Chicago and the surrounding communities on the same page in fixing the problem. We cannot fix a problem that we don’t believe exists. We need to recognize the signs of heroin abuse and addiction. We need to listen when others stress concerns about individuals who use and admit there’s a problem where one exists

The consequences of heroin abuse are grave:

  • Addiction: Addiction happens, and it happens quickly. Nearly 1 in 4 who try heroin will become dependent. Those who are addicted and abusing may have shortness of breath, dry mouth, constricted (small) pupils, sudden changes in behavior or actions, cycles of hyper alertness followed by suddenly nodding off, weight loss, unexplained runny nose, or cuts, bruises, and scabs from needle prick marks.
  • Conviction: Heroin addiction can happen to anyone – young, old, white, black, rich, poor, and even to your loved ones. Heroin abusers go to great lengths to get the drug, and it’s not uncommon for them to have a run-in with the law. If found in possession of heroin, maximum punishments start out at a $200,000 fine and/or 4 to 15 years in the penitentiary. If found selling, manufacturing, or possessing with the intent to traffic, maximum punishment starts out at a $500,000 fine and/or 6 to 30 years in the penitentiary. These are felony-level crimes. Beyond the punishment though, one who is convicted of possessing heroin can forget about getting government financial aid for a college education.

Heroin use is on the rise particularly in the suburbs. Cops are increasing enforcement and they will continue implementing sting operations. If you or your loved one is abusing heroin, it’s important to get help before the abuse results in a felony conviction.

We can’t continue to bury our heads in the sand, pretend the problem doesn’t exist, and hope the problem will go away on its own. The issue must be confronted, as hard as it may be, before it spirals out of control. We can keep our loved ones’ futures bright by coming together as a community. Awareness and communication are key.

If you or your loved ones need help with addiction or with getting life back on track after arrest or conviction, the attorneys at Appelman & Associates can help.

Increased DUI Patrols Begin Today In Illinois

DUI patrolsThe Illinois State Police announced that they will be conducting extra DUI patrols through Memorial Day in hopes of deterring folks from driving drunk.

The added patrols are part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents. The added patrols will start today and run through May 26.

Authorities hope the added presence in the days leading up to Memorial Day will give drivers second thoughts about making risky choices during the long weekend.

“Memorial Day weekend kicks off the busy summer driving season, and we want to ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safe and sound,” said Sheriff Jeff Boyd. “Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone, front or back seat, who is not wearing a seat belt, and who are drinking and driving.”

Two people lost their lives due to alcohol-related car accidents during the holiday weekend in Illinois last year, and more than 600 were injured on Illinois roads. The Illinois Department of Transportation wants to remind citizens that your best defense against a drunk driver is your seat belt, and it can also help keep a little extra cash in your wallet.

Seat Belt Enforcement

Authorities will also be placing an emphasis on seat belt laws for all passengers. Illinois law requires all passengers to use a seat belt while riding in a car, but traffic data from the Illinois Department of Transportation found that back seat passengers were much less likely to buckle up in 2013. According to the data, drivers and front seat passengers fastened their seat belts 93.7 percent of the time last year, while only 77.4 percent of back seat passengers did the same.

Sherriff Boyd noted that of the 46 back seat passengers who lost their lives in 2013, 30 weren’t wearing a seat belt. He said some of those fatalities could have been prevented.

“Seat belts save thousands of lives every year, but far too many motorists still are not buckling up, especially in the back seat,” said Boyd. “Our goal is to save more lives, so the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office will be out enforcing seat belt laws around the clock, looking for those who are not buckled up, in all seating positions. If you are caught not wearing your seat belt, you will be ticketed.”

Brett Appelman comments

It takes two seconds to fasten your seat belt, so there’s really no good excuse not to buckle up. It can save your life. You may think you’re the best driver in the world, but it won’t matter whose fault it was if you don’t survive the accident.

If you don’t want to buckle up for your own safety, do it for the loved ones in your life. You wouldn’t want to cause them pain because you were in too much of a hurry to buckle up or the drive sober.

Make good decisions, especially during the holiday weekend. If something goes wrong, we’re here to help, but we would be more than happy if there were zero DUI arrests in Illinois during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign.

Related source: QC Online

Chicago Cops To Add Extra Patrols in Crime-Riddled Neighborhoods

police patrols chicagoAs we made mention last week, when temperatures rise, so too does crime in many Chicago neighborhoods. To combat violence in high-crime areas, the Chicago Police Department announced that it will add extra police patrols and overtime hours.

“The summer months is our busy season,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in an interview with the Associated Press. “And we have to ramp up our response to violence in the city.”

McCarthy noted that added patrols will be part of the “Summer Surge” initiative designed to reduce the number of homicides in the city. Chicago had more than 500 homicides before the added patrols were instituted last year. Although Chicago still led the nation in homicides in 2013, the number dropped to 415.

Budgeted Overtime

Last year’s program resulted in over $100 million in overtime pay to officers added to the dangerous patrols, and the city hopes to cut back on that number in 2014. $70 million is budgeted for overtime pay this summer, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel “has made it very clear if we need more overtime for initiatives, he will find a way to fund it,” said McCarthy.

The Chicago Transit Authority, the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Housing Authority will help finance the overtime pay. The added patrols can’t start soon enough, as at least 30 people have been shot and 16 have been killed on three consecutive weekends.

In addition to the added patrols, police will be partaking in what they call “custom notifications” to reach out to high-risk members of the community. Officers will knock on the doors of known gang members and their family members to let them know that there will be more eyes on their activities, and that the violence has to stop.

Criminal Defense attorney Brett Appelman commended the city for taking a harsher stance against crime.

“Police officers sometimes get a bad rap, but patrolling high-crime areas and going door-to-door is no safe task,” said Appelman. “I hope that by the end of 2014 we once again see a reduction in homicides and other violent acts.

Related source: Lubbock Online