City firearm owner ID process underway as state sets tougher gun penalties

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One week after Chicago’s new gun ordinance went into effect, residents are already looking to apply for a required firearm permit.

ne week after Chicago’s new gun ordinance went into effect, residents are already looking to apply for a required firearm permit. Roderick Drew, news affairs director for the Chicago Police Department, said since July 12, when the city’s new gun ordinance became law, 240 applications for a Chicago Firearm Permit have been issued and 11 were returned for processing, which could take up to 120 days. All applications must be returned in person to police headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave. A Firearm Owners Identification card issued by the state and a CFP are among the requirements to own a handgun in Chicago. The new ordinance also calls for special gun safety training and firearm registration.   On the day the ordinance took effect police Supt. Jody Weis said 75 people had already stopped by police headquarters to pickup a CFP application. “Believe it or not, we are trying to make registering handguns in Chicago as easy as possible,” he said previously. But long before the city created a new gun ordinance, interest in gun ownership by Chicagoans slightly increased, said Master Sgt. Isaiah Vega, a spokesman for the Illinois State Police. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Americans have the right to own a handgun for self-defense, thus making the city’s 28-year-old gun ban unenforceable. According to state police records, there were 104,356 FOIDs issued to Chicago residents by Jan. 31. But by July 9 the total number had inched up to 106,667. To obtain a CFP, Weis said individuals must fill out an application, submit to a background check, which includes being fingerprinted, pay a $100 application fee, and then pay $15 each time a gun is registered. Chicago residents are allowed to register one handgun per month. Weis explained that applicants are fingerprinted in addition to a criminal background check because “it’s the most accurate way of ensuring that someone does not have any criminal history which would bar them from owning that particular gun.” Once a gun owner obtains a CFP they would only be allowed to keep a handgun inside their home and not their garage, place of employment or vehicle. Gun owners are prohibited from having firearms at hotels, dorms and group-living facilities, the ordinance states. The murder of three Chicago police officers since May, in addition to the rampant violent crime in the city, prompted new gun legislation by Gov. Pat Quinn. On Monday Quinn signed into law a bill that makes prison mandatory for anyone convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon without a FOID. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2011. “We must work together to prevent gun violence in Chicago and all across Illinois,” Quinn said at a Monday news conference at Nate King Cole Park on the South Side, where he signed the bill. “By signing this legislation we are one step closer to eradicating irresponsible, tragic gun violence on our streets.” The new legislation not only penalizes those who break the law but Ronald Holt, director of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, said it also sends a clear message that Illinois will not stand for people carrying and firing guns at will. “(This bill) sends a clear message to violent offenders that they will be dealt with to the fullest letter of this law, as punishment will be swift, severe and fair,” he told the Defender. “(And) that the code of silence on the streets will be broken, which speaks volumes to the moral capacity of all concerned citizens in their communities besieged by acts of violence.” Under the new state law, offenders would receive one to three years in prison and would not be eligible for probation. Mayor Richard M. Daley, who joined Quinn at the bill signing, said he is delighted to know that anyone who disobeys gun laws would receive mandatory jail time. “This legislation will reduce the threat of gun violence by sending a clear message that serious offenders will be held accountable and will not be let off scot-free as many of them have been in the past,” he said. Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender Photo: Defender/Worsom Robinson

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