WBEZ | gun laws http://www.wbez.org/tags/gun-laws Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois lawmakers override Quinn, enact concealed carry law http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-lawmakers-override-quinn-enact-concealed-carry-law-107994 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP301765859799_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois became the last state in the nation to allow public possession of concealed guns as lawmakers rushed Tuesday to finalize a proposal ahead of a federal court&#39;s deadline.</p><p>Both chambers of the Legislature voted to override changes Gov. Pat Quinn made to the bill they approved more than a month ago. Even some critics of the law argued it was better to approve something rather than risk the courts allowing virtually unregulated concealed weapons in Chicago, which has endured severe gun violence in recent months.</p><p>The Senate voted 41-17 in favor of the override Tuesday afternoon after the House voted 77-31, margins that met the three-fifths threshold needed to set aside the amendatory veto. Quinn had used his veto authority to suggest changes such as prohibiting guns in restaurants that serve alcohol and limiting gun-toting citizens to one firearm at a time.</p><p>Quinn had predicted a &quot;showdown in Springfield&quot; after a week of Chicago appearances to drum up support for the changes he made in the amendatory veto. The Chicago Democrat faces a tough re-election fight next year and has already drawn a primary challenge from former White House chief of state Bill Daley, who has criticized the governor&#39;s handling of the debate over guns and other issues.</p><p>Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Democrat from southern Illinois, predicted a history-making day in which lawmakers would dismiss Quinn&#39;s changes as politically motivated.</p><p>&quot;He&#39;s trying to cater to, pander to Cook County,&quot; Phelps said, referring to the nation&#39;s second most-populous county, which encompasses Chicago. &quot;And I don&#39;t blame him ... because that&#39;s where his votes are.&quot;</p><p>The law as approved by the Legislature permits anyone with a Firearm Owner&#39;s Identification card who has passed a background check and undergone gun-safety training of 16 hours &mdash; longest of any state &mdash; to obtain a concealed-carry permit for $150.</p><p>The Illinois State Police would have six months to set up a system to start accepting applications. Spokeswoman Monique Bond said police expect 300,000 applications in the first year.</p><p>The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that it&#39;s unconstitutional for Illinois to ban concealed carry. The court gave state officials until June 9 to rectify the shortfall, and later extended that by a month.</p><p>Opinions varied about what would have happened had a law not taken effect. Gun supporters said it would have meant with no law governing gun possession, any type of firearm could be carried anywhere, at any time. Those supporting stricter gun control said local communities would have been able to set up tough restrictions.</p><p>With the negotiated law, gun-rights advocates got the permissive law they wanted, instead of a New York-style plan that gives law enforcement authorities wide discretion over who gets permits. In exchange, Chicago Democrats repulsed by gun violence got a long list of places deemed off limits to guns, including schools, libraries, parks and mass transit buses and trains.</p><p>But one part of the compromise had to do with establishments that serve alcohol. The law will allow diners to carry weapons into restaurants and other establishments where liquor comprises no more than 50 percent of gross sales. One of the main provisions of Quinn&#39;s amendatory veto was to nix guns in businesses that serve any alcohol.</p><p>He also wants to limit citizens to carrying one gun at a time, a gun that is completely concealed, not &quot;mostly concealed&quot; as the initiative decrees. He prefers banning guns from private property unless an owner puts up a sign allowing guns &mdash; the reverse of what&#39;s in the proposal &mdash; and would give employers more power to prohibit guns at work.</p><p>Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, gave a nod to Quinn&#39;s wishes by putting before his caucus new legislation that incorporated the changes Quinn prefers. But Democrats had not said by early Tuesday whether they would vote on the bill. Phelps said he didn&#39;t know whether the House would consider it, although House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, kept the chamber in session in case a new bill arrived from the Senate.</p><p>Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont said it&#39;s clear the issue would be addressed again in the future but the Senate should focus Tuesday on meeting the court deadline.</p><p>&quot;For today, we should stick with the agreement that was in place,&quot; Radogno said. &quot;It&#39;s important to follow through.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 09 Jul 2013 09:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-lawmakers-override-quinn-enact-concealed-carry-law-107994 Special Chicago City Council session called on gun laws http://www.wbez.org/news/special-chicago-city-council-session-called-gun-laws-107993 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/guns_gill (2).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling a special session of the City Council to consider measures he says will strengthen the city&#39;s assault weapons ban.</p><p>The <a href="http://bit.ly/14Z7Niw" target="_blank">Chicago Sun-Times reports</a> the July 17 meeting will also deal with legislation imposing stiffer penalties for gun crimes committed near schools, on buses and along routes children walk to schools.</p><p>Chicago&#39;s existing ordinance prohibits the import, sale, transfer and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.</p><p>The special session is a reaction to the concealed carry bill passed by the Illinois Legislature that gives Chicago and other municipalities 10 days upon signage to pass new or updated assault weapons legislation.</p><p>The Sun-Times reports Emanuel&#39;s ordinance would ban a list of specifically named weapons and their equivalents.</p></p> Tue, 09 Jul 2013 09:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/special-chicago-city-council-session-called-gun-laws-107993 Quinn ready for Springfield 'showdown' on gun bill http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-ready-springfield-showdown-gun-bill-107976 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP301765859799.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn says he&#39;s ready for a &quot;showdown&quot; in Springfield over concealed carry legislation.</p><p>The Chicago Democrat has spent days making appearances talking up his sweeping changes to a bill that&#39;d make Illinois the last state to allow concealed weapons.</p><p>But lawmakers are expected to override Quinn&#39;s changes when they meet Tuesday in Springfield. The bill&#39;s sponsor, among others, says the original measure came out of months of negotiations.</p><p>Quinn wouldn&#39;t say if he has the votes, but says he&#39;s working on it. He says the bill was influenced heavily by the National Rifle Association.</p><p>He spoke to reporters Monday in Chicago after signing legislation dealing with gang crimes.</p><p>Illinois has until Tuesday to legalize concealed carry after a federal appeals court ruled the state&#39;s ban unconstitutional.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 08 Jul 2013 11:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-ready-springfield-showdown-gun-bill-107976 Highland Park bans assault weapons http://www.wbez.org/news/highland-park-bans-assault-weapons-107838 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP040908020437.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>HIGHLAND PARK, Ill.&nbsp; &mdash; The northern Chicago suburb of Highland Park has banned assault weapons.</p><p>The Highland Park City Council enacted the ban Monday night after nearly two hours of public comments in a standing-room only chamber. One councilman, David Naftzger, voted against the ban. He said it could cost Highland Park thousands of dollars in litigation. Councilman Paul Frank voted for the ban, <a href="http://bit.ly/1477z9K" target="_blank">telling The News-Sun</a> he&#39;s &quot;proud we will not permit assault weapons.&quot;</p><p>Illinois Rifle Association second vice president Mike Weisman promised a lawsuit, saying one would &quot;be filed without a doubt.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 25 Jun 2013 13:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/highland-park-bans-assault-weapons-107838 Illinois legislature passes concealed carry bill, awaits Quinn's signature http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-legislature-passes-concealed-carry-bill-awaits-quinns-signature-107417 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS4474_Springfield-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Illinois is one step closer to allowing its residents to carry concealed weapons, even though several state lawmakers who voted in favor of the proposal actually oppose the idea of concealed carry.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The State Senate approved a new concealed carry plan Friday by a vote of 45-12. The House approved it 89-28. It still needs the governor&#39;s approval.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A December ruling from a federal court in Chicago ruled that Illinois&rsquo; ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional. It is the only state in the country to not allow its residents to carry a concealed gun.</div><p>The court ruling prompted months of debate over where guns should or should not be allowed, pitting representatives from Chicago against those from rural parts of the state. A bill approved by the senate on Friday would ban concealed guns in schools, large arenas and buses and trains.</p><p>It also would allow certain cities and counties around Illinois to keep their own gun regulations. Chicago, for instance, bans so-called assault weapons and shops that sell guns to civilians. A rival concealed carry bill had sought to wipe individual cities&rsquo; gun laws off the books, in favor of statewide regulations on guns. It passed the House of Representatives last week, but failed in a Senate committee earlier this week.</p><p>&ldquo;Understand what you&rsquo;re doing if you vote against this bill. Be very clear what you&rsquo;re doing. You&rsquo;re endorsing the risk of guns in schools being legal in non-home rule communities,&rdquo; said Republican State Sen. Matt Murphy. Several lawmakers thought that if no gun regulation was approved by a court-mandated June 9th deadline, then anybody could carry any gun anywhere.</p><p>&ldquo;I am not happy with the end result,&rdquo; said State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, who helped negotiate the bill. &ldquo;But my journey and my assignment was not to achieve my own personal happiness. My assignment was to negotiate a bill.&rdquo;</p><p>Those involved in negotiations had worried about various gun regulations around the state, pitting one city&rsquo;s gun regulations against the next. The bill approved by senators allows residents to transport their guns through the state, so long as it&rsquo;s packed appropriately.</p><p>The debate over concealed carry has pitted the National Rifle Association against the City of Chicago. Both are neutral on the bill.</p><p>Meantime, some Illinois lawmakers have also tried to ban ammunition magazines from holding more than 10 rounds across the entire state. Parents of children killed in December&rsquo;s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., recently went to Springfield to testify in favor of the legislation. The measure failed in the Senate on Friday.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 31 May 2013 12:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-legislature-passes-concealed-carry-bill-awaits-quinns-signature-107417 Illinois Senate panel advances stricter gun-carry bill http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-senate-panel-advances-stricter-gun-carry-bill-107400 <p><p>An Illinois Senate committee has approved a Democratic plan to allow the public possession of firearms.</p><p>A majority of Democrats on the committee drove the 10-6 vote in favor of the bill by Sen. Kwame Raoul. Raoul said he doesn&#39;t know how many votes he has on the Senate floor or when he&#39;ll call it, but lawmakers are scheduled to end their legislative session Friday.</p><p>Raoul&rsquo;s concealed carry legislation doesn&#39;t include a provision that overrides all local ordinances on firearms, such as Chicago&#39;s assault weapons ban.</p><p>Instead, that idea is the hallmark of a proposal the House passed overwhelmingly last week. The Senate panel defeated that plan on Tuesday.</p><p>State Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, said that preemption is &quot;a bridge too far.&quot;</p><p>Raoul&#39;s measure also prohibits carrying guns wherever alcohol is served for consumption.</p><p>Meantime, the National Rifle Association opposes Raoul&rsquo;s plan that was advanced by the Senate committee Tuesday. But the organization has taken a neutral stance on the bill passed by the House of Representatives last week that would preempt local gun ordinances.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not for it. We&rsquo;re not against it. But given some of the other things that are out there, there&rsquo;s enough bread on this sandwich to make it choke down,&rdquo; Vandermyde said Tuesday.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not clear which of the two rival plans will pass both the House and the Senate. Gov. Pat Quinn has said the plan passed by the House that preempts cities gun ordinances is an &ldquo;overreach.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 28 May 2013 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-senate-panel-advances-stricter-gun-carry-bill-107400 Emanuel pushes mandatory minimums for gun crimes, but research shows they are ineffective http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-mandatory-minimums-gun-crimes-research-shows-they-are-ineffective-106621 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 8.35.48 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Harold Pollack cares deeply about Chicago&rsquo;s murder problem and he knows a lot about it too. In 2008, when he was part of the team working to establish the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago, he read through medical examiner reports for 200 consecutive homicides of young men in Chicago, and a couple things about the murders really stood out.</p><p>&ldquo;They were impulsive acts where a gun was present, and so an altercation that would have led to somebody getting punched in the face suddenly becomes someone being sent to the morgue,&rdquo; said Pollack.</p><p>Another thing that stood out to him was just how deadly guns can be, and like all of us who grieve over the high number of young people being killed, Pollack is looking for any solutions that could help reduce the number of murders in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;We have many people in the city walking around carrying these really lethal weapons and causing tragedies for themselves and other people and if we can make that less common by the imposition of the risk that they&rsquo;ll face some sort of a mandatory minimum sentence if they&rsquo;re caught, I think we&rsquo;ll save some lives,&rdquo; said Pollack.</p><p>That&rsquo;s why Pollack supports Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s push to impose mandatory minimum 3-year sentences on all people caught carrying an illegal gun. In fact Pollack testified in Springfield before legislators considering the law, and his appearance carries some weight because he&rsquo;s the co-director of the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago, which is dedicated to using science to improve crime policy. So as I was doing research for this story I went to Pollack to see what research he has to show that mandatory minimums will work. His answer surprised me.</p><p>&ldquo;Well I don&rsquo;t think we have research that nails it down,&rdquo; said Pollack. &ldquo;I must say I personally am very influenced by the situation in New York.&rdquo;</p><p>The situation in New York -- that&rsquo;s one of the main &ldquo;arguments&rdquo; Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy have repeatedly made over the past few months as they&rsquo;ve pushed their agenda on gun legislation..</p><p>&ldquo;And just look at New York,&rdquo; said McCarthy at a press conference this week. &ldquo;It couldn&rsquo;t be a clearer example of how to do this. The fact is, where these conditions exist, it&rsquo;s working. I mean, what research do we need?&rdquo;</p><p>Well, Frank Zimring did do the research. He&rsquo;s a professor of law at the University of California Berkeley and author of the book &ldquo;The City That Became Safe: New York&rsquo;s Lessons for Urban Crime and its Control.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;The mandatory minimum punishments, is, if you study the New York experience, beside the point,&rdquo; said Zimring.</p><p>Zimring studied 19 years of data tracking crime in New York. He says in 1990 the city had 2,250 murders. In 2012, it had 419. That&rsquo;s an astonishing 80 percent drop in murder.</p><p>It&rsquo;s that success that&rsquo;s being used to justify the mandatory minimum sentences being proposed by Emanuel and McCarthy, but mandatory minimums weren&rsquo;t signed into law in New York until late 2006.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s after 90 percent of the crime reduction!&rdquo; said Zimring. &ldquo;I think that what&rsquo;s going on is that the superintendent and the mayor in Chicago are under a &lsquo;do something fast political pressure,&rsquo; and in my experience, at least, that&rsquo;s never been good for penal codes.&rdquo;</p><p>So, mandatory minimums were not part of the formula that led to New York&rsquo;s success. But can they work to deter crime? Police Superintendent McCarthy has been making the argument that they can.</p><p>At his weekly press conferences on guns and mandatory minimums McCarthy has been profiling cases where young men who had previous gun charges are either shot or charged with shooting someone. Here&rsquo;s what he said at a press conference at the beginning of April:</p><p>&ldquo;Akeem Manago was shot and killed this weekend. In April, less than a year ago, 2012, he was sentenced to 42 months for aggravated battery and one year for aggravated UUW.&nbsp; He was paroled on January 28th and two months later he was shot and killed. With truth in sentencing he would have been incarcerated instead of on the street to be a crime victim,&rdquo; said McCarthy.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s an emotionally powerful claim your police chief is making,&rdquo; said Mike Tonry, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota. &ldquo;Probably most people&rsquo;s intuition is that it&rsquo;s legitimate, which is why it&rsquo;s an effective public argument. Of course it&rsquo;s completely intellectually dishonest.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s simple, with 100 percent&nbsp; accuracy, to make statements like that retrospectively, say, this guy was convicted, didn&rsquo;t go to prison, six months later committed an offense, don&rsquo;t you see if he had been sent to prison six months ago this wouldn&rsquo;t have happened,&rdquo; said Tonry. But he says the problem is that if you go back six months and look at the number of people who came to the attention of police that day, there&rsquo;s no way to know which ones would reoffend in the future unless you lock them all up and that gets costly.</p><p>The Illinois Sentencing and Policy Advisory Council has studied Emanuel&rsquo;s mandatory minimum and told legislators that if the law had been in effect over the last three years it would have cost the state an extra $400 million in incarceration expenses.</p><p>Tonry says there are better ways to spend that money to bring down crime. &ldquo;You could do some things with greater police intensity, changes in patrolling techniques, all kinds of outreach work with gangs, all kinds of community center stuff that would probably be more effective,&rdquo; said Tonry.</p><p>In a 2009 paper on mandatory minimums Tonry looked at sentences before the laws took effect and after and surprisingly he found that the sentences were often exactly the same. The mandatory minimums had no effect because prosecutors and judges simply found ways to work around them, most commonly by bringing charges without attached mandatory sentences.</p><p>In such cases Tonry says the mandatory minimum laws are just political theater and fall into a category of law called expressive punishment laws.</p><p>He explains them as &ldquo;Laws that are meant to essentially convey a message to the public irrespective of what they do in practice, and since your mayor is a smart guy and I&rsquo;m sure he is surrounded by smart people, I have no doubt that they perfectly well understand that this is a symbolic proposal of their making and if it&rsquo;s enacted they will claim credit for having responded to public anxiety and having done something about whether or not it&rsquo;s likely to have any effects in the real world,&rdquo; said Tonry.</p><p>But so what?&nbsp; What&rsquo;s wrong with passing a law that says we as a state take it very seriously when people carry guns illegally?</p><p>Tonry says if the mandatory minimum proves misguided as such laws often have -- it will be&nbsp; tough to take back. &ldquo;No state has yet repealed any major bit of expressive tough-on-crime legislation,&rdquo; said Tonry. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really hard to do.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel has said he&rsquo;s confident that mandatory minimums will be part of any new state gun legislation. In announcing his push for mandatory minimums he said, &ldquo;When you commit a serious gun offense, you should serve the time. The victims deserve it, the public demands it, and the criminal justice system shoud deliver it.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 11 Apr 2013 19:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-mandatory-minimums-gun-crimes-research-shows-they-are-ineffective-106621 Without Means: The role of guns in suicide deaths http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/without-means-role-guns-suicide-deaths-106590 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Guns and Suicides_130409_sh.jpeg.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Lindsay Van Sickle&rsquo;s dad loved to shoot. He lived on a farm and hunted as a little boy. As an adult, he spent time at the shooting range. He collected what she calls &ldquo;cowboy guns&rdquo; and loved the history behind some of his WWII firearms.</p><p>Van Sickle describes her dad as the life of the party. But he also struggled emotionally.&nbsp; In July of 2011, he took one of his guns, locked the rest of them up, left his house and shot himself at a park. He was 54. The year he died, of the 30,867 gun deaths in the U.S., 19,766 were suicides.</p><p>Van Sickle says her dad was a model of responsibility with guns.</p><p>&ldquo;At the house they were locked up in the basement. I didn&rsquo;t even know where the keys were,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Even a few of my dad&rsquo;s cousin&rsquo;s who grew up kind of like my dad, were shocked that he would take something he loved so much and use it to end his life.&rdquo;</p><p>As Van Sickle watches the news, and sees all these debates about guns, she&rsquo;s found herself wondering, what role these suicides play in the debate.</p><p>&ldquo;When something like this happens, you can&rsquo;t help but wonder about the what if. If laws were different, if rules were different, if the outcome would be the same,&rdquo; said Van Sickle.</p><p>I posed that question, about laws and suicide, to Dr. Cathy Barber at the Harvard School of Public Health.</p><p>She says first, it&rsquo;s important to note why the method of suicide matters.</p><p>A number of years ago, Barber was helping develop a new system for the federal government called the National Violent Death Reporting system.</p><p>&ldquo;In the process of doing that, I would read through thousands of suicides, little thumbnail sketches of suicides,&rdquo; Barber recalled.</p><p>Barber was surprised at how many of the suicides seemed impulsive. Barber, like many others, assumed that suicide is something people plan. In another study, people who almost died in a suicide were asked how long after they decided to attempt suicide did they actually try it. Twenty-four percent said under 5 min. Two-thirds said under an hour. Only 16 percent said a day or more.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;d think this is such a huge decision, you&rsquo;d think it would be a more deliberative one,&rdquo; said Barber.</p><p>This matters because even though people may have long battles with depression, the window of time in which they actually want to attempt suicide is small. And many people who survived suicide attempts, never go on to try again.</p><p>So Barber, came to a simple conclusion. What mattered in that tiny window was the instrument available to the person wanting to commit suicide.</p><p>&ldquo;There is a huge difference across methods of suicide in how likely they are to actually kill. Firearms are actually at the top of the heap.&rdquo;</p><p><br />Suicide attempts with a gun, result in death 85 percent of the time. Poisoning, for example, only results in death 2 percent of the time.</p><p>State suicide statistics illustrate this as well.&nbsp; Eastern states, like Massachusetts have a much lower rate of suicide death than Western states like Wyoming. They don&rsquo;t vary much in depression rates or even suicide attempts.The biggest difference is the number of guns in each state.</p><p>This has gotten some public health workers thinking about a method called &ldquo;means restriction.&rdquo;</p><p>The term comes from the U.K., where gas&mdash;sticking your head in the oven&mdash;was once a leading means of suicide.</p><p>&ldquo;Back in the 1960s, they started replacing the source of gas with a non-toxic source, and suddenly suicides in Great Britain went down by a third,&rdquo; Barber said. &ldquo;And so that&rsquo;s when we started realizing means restriction actually can save lives.&rdquo;</p><p>But of course, &ldquo;means restriction&rdquo; with guns in the U.S. is not as simple.</p><p>Gun control usually focuses on homicide. Even laws like waiting periods, or background checks, haven&rsquo;t really been shown to help. That&rsquo;s because people usually don&rsquo;t go out and buy a gun for a suicide.</p><p>What matters is having a gun around. And no one is proposing laws that would get guns out of homes all together.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t see it as being in line what the courts have decided about second amendment rights,&rdquo; said Barber.&nbsp; &ldquo;I mean people can have their opinions about this, but personally, my interest is looking at this and saying &lsquo;how do we save lives right now.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>So Barber&rsquo;s approach is a public health one. Her project based at Harvard School of Public Health is called Means Matters. She encourages programs that work with, not against gun owners. For example, a New Hampshire project trains gun shop owners in suicide prevention.&nbsp; In addition to learning about how to lock up and store a gun, gun purchasers learn about how to keep guns away from suicidal individuals. They also receive resources for mental health support.</p><p>But the politicized debates over gun laws sometimes spill over to these public health approaches too. Dr.&nbsp; Joseph O&#39;Neil used to work as a family doctor. At appointments, he asked about general safety concerns.</p><p>&ldquo;When I was talking about car seats, when I was talking about seatbelt use, I often asked families if there was a firearm in the house. And I had several families take exception to that.&rdquo;</p><p>Some patients were so upset, that he would ask what they considered a personal, non-medical question, that they switched doctors.</p><p>But O&#39;Neill didn&rsquo;t stop. In fact, he expanded his efforts. He became part of the Indiana Violent Death Prevention Project. One of the organizations projects was training clergy in suicide intervention.</p><p>Over a third of clergy members, said they had actually lost someone in their congregation to suicide. The training helped them counsel potentially suicidal individuals.</p><p>&ldquo;Clergy felt more empowered to say by the way I know you feel this way. Is there a gun in the home, would you be willing to get it out of the house,&rdquo; said O&rsquo;Neill.</p><p>But they never got to see how well it worked. Their funding, from the Joyce Foundation, the same private foundation that supports this series, ran out. Other funding for firearm injury research is scarce.</p><p>The Center for Disease Control funds research on causes of death and injury. But since 1996, most of their research on firearms was restricted by congress, who was pressured by the NRA.</p><p>Another problem: The Consumer Product Safety Commision, which regulates household products like toys or cars, doesn&rsquo;t oversee firearms.</p><p>O&#39;Neil said there just isn&rsquo;t the same oversight or information on guns. &ldquo;Since 1975, we&rsquo;ve reduced the number of infants killed in motor vehicle accidents by 75%. For toddlers, 50%. I wish we could do that for firearm injuries.&rdquo;</p><p>But without the research dollars and oversight, he thinks they won&rsquo;t. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s sort of like going without a compass. We don&rsquo;t know where we&rsquo;ve been and we don&rsquo;t know where we are going unless we have the data.&rdquo;</p><p>Both Dr. O&#39;neill and Dr. Barber say that the current political battles over guns are a catch 22. It brings more attention to their issue.&nbsp; But it makes any mention of guns so contentious their work becomes political. And it&rsquo;s hard to talk to gun owners-- the very people most at risk of gun suicides-- without coming across as anti-gun.</p><p>As for Lindsay Van Sickle, the experience of actually losing someone to a firearms suicide has changed the way she feels.</p><p>&ldquo;If you have a gun, even if it&rsquo;s for hunting or protection, there may come a time in your life that you may be depressed. And that may be a means to take your life. So I am definitely more nervous and scared about guns now based on what my dad did to himself.&rdquo;</p><p>She doesn&#39;t&rsquo; know if any policies or programs could have changed what happened to her father. But she does think, at the very least, it&rsquo;s worth us asking the question.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 10 Apr 2013 14:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/without-means-role-guns-suicide-deaths-106590 Quiz: How well do you know your local gun laws? http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/quiz-how-well-do-you-know-your-local-gun-laws-106296 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3233_S&amp;W-Chief(1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Starting next week, we will explore the various gun laws around the region, how they came to be, whether they are enforced and how they affect our lives. That&#39;s our next series from Front &amp; Center. Flashpoint: A look at our region&#39;s gun laws.</p><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 580px;"><tbody><tr><td><script type="text/javascript" src="http://i0.poll.fm/survey.js" charset="UTF-8"></script><noscript> <a href="http://cpm.polldaddy.com/s/do-you-know-your-local-gun-laws">Take Our Survey!</a></noscript><script type="text/javascript"> polldaddy.add( { type: 'iframe', auto: true, domain: 'cpm.polldaddy.com/s/', id: 'do-you-know-your-local-gun-laws' } ); </script></td></tr></tbody></table><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 26 Mar 2013 17:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/quiz-how-well-do-you-know-your-local-gun-laws-106296 Widening of Chicago's gun offender registry law raising civil rights issues http://www.wbez.org/news/widening-chicagos-gun-offender-registry-law-raising-civil-rights-issues-105989 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/guns 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Proposed changes to Chicago&rsquo;s gun offender registry law have raised some civil liberty issues.</p><p>The proposal widens the current law to include anyone who commits a violent crime with a firearm.</p><p>Supporters, like Alderman Ed Burke (14th), say that widening the net will help police and parents keep better tabs on gun offenders in their communities.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because new gun offenders under the revised law will be added to an online pool of current gun offenders that is accessible to the public.</p><p>Alderman Emma Mitts is on the public safety committee that passed the ordinance.</p><p>She wasn&rsquo;t included in the unanimous voice vote because she left the meeting early. Mitts said this would be a good tool for police, but worried about its impact on citizens.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure it would not be good for people of my color,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just another tool that&rsquo;s going to be used against them, especially minors.&rdquo;</p><p>Similar to Chicago&rsquo;s sex offender registry, Chicago residents can search for gun offenders in their neighborhoods by putting their address into a search box on the police department&#39;s website.</p><p>Search results include a photo of the offender,&nbsp; details of their conviction and other information.</p><p>Matthew Robison is a civil rights lawyer with Barrido and Robison LLC in Chicago.</p><p>He said even though offenders will only be on the gun offender registry list for four years, it could have a lasting impact on people&#39;s reputations.</p><p>&ldquo;What is placed on the Internet can&rsquo;t be undone,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So the question is not as much should we be ostracizing or dehumanizing these people, although that&rsquo;s a question in it of itself, so much as who it is that we&rsquo;re going to subject to this.&rdquo;</p><p>Robison said it&rsquo;s important that there&rsquo;s a balance between the right of the public to have this information about gun offenders versus the right of gun offenders to live a private life.</p><p>&ldquo;I think what legislators all over the country [need to] figure out where that balance lies,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;</p><p>The revised ordinance will be up for a vote at next week&rsquo;s city council meeting.</p></p> Fri, 08 Mar 2013 17:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/widening-chicagos-gun-offender-registry-law-raising-civil-rights-issues-105989