Chicago mayor says spate of gun deaths proves city needs to keep handgun ban in place

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley defended the city's handgun ban Tuesday after a spate of shootings that left 10 people dead and dozens wounded, saying the violence bolsters the city's argument that the 1982 ordinance is needed.

Daley said the city must continue to fight against handguns even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the ban as unconstitional. The court is expected to rule later this month.

"Look at all the guns that shot people this weekend. Where did they come from? That is the issue," Daley said at a South Side high school Tuesday.

Ten people have been killed and more than 60 others wounded by gunfire since Friday, city officials said. Daley said about 75 percent of the recent shootings involved people who knew each other.

Chicago officials have said that if the Supreme Court rules against the city, they would look for ways to change gun restrictions so they aren't unconstitutional. Chicago's ordinance that makes it illegal to possess or sell handguns in the city.

Homicides from all causes are up slightly in Chicago over last year. Officials earlier this month said the city had 164 homicides between January and May — a 4 percent increase over the same period in 2009.

Beatrice Sumlin, who raised her children on the city's South Side and said she knows lots of people whose children joined gangs, agreed with the mayor on the danger of family and friends hurting each other.

"People get in heated arguments, drinking and what have you," said Sumlin, 70.

Daley also said Chicago will spend nearly $25 million in federal economic stimulus money on preventive programs for youth in high schools. The programs include mentors and teacher training.

Daley also recently proposed legislation for the entire state that would require semiautomatic pistols manufactured or delivered for sale in Illinois to be capable of "micro-stamping." The technology helps law enforcement link spent ammunition with the gun used to fire it.

The mayor also wants to make it a Class 1 felony to "knowingly sell or transfer a gun to a known gang member."

Gov. Pat Quinn told reporters at a separate news conference in Chicago on Tuesday that Illinois needs tough laws punishing people who commit gun crimes.

"Those who commit gun violence need to go to jail and stay there," he said.

Chicago's ban on the sale and possession of handguns has been weathering legal challenges for years. But it gained newfound attention after the Supreme Court in 2008 struck down a similar ban in the District of Columbia. The court now plans to decide whether the ruling on D.C., a city with unique federal status, should apply to local and state laws, too.


Associated Press Writer Deanna Bellandi contributed to this report.