Durkin, GOP Reps Introduce Gang, School Violence Legislation
New bills call for stiffer sentencing for gang-related gun offenses, gang recruitment.
State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) joined with fellow Republican legislators Tuesday in introducing legislation aimed at keeping Illinois children and communities safe from violence.
According to Cross’ website, the “Protect Our Children” intiative targets gang- and school-related violence. The intiative introduces four new bills. They are:
- House Bill 3217 increases penalties for gang-related gun offenses. It increases the minimum sentence for possession of a firearm by a street gang member from 3 up to 4 years and makes it a non-probationable offense. The legislation also requires 85 percent truth in sentencing for many gun offenses by felons and known gang members.
- House Bill 3009 cracks down on gang recruitment. Illinois’ gang recruitment law currently requires prosecutors to prove that the defendant used force or coercion to recruit another person into a gang. This legislation adds two new felony offenses for recruiting adults (Class 4 Felony) or minors (Class 3 Felony) to join gangs that do not require proof of physical force.
- House Bill 1925 (Floor Amendment #1) utilizes gun offense fines to enhance mental health reporting. A recent audit conducted by Auditor General Bill Holland found that due to deficiencies in the reporting of individuals with potentially disqualifying mental health conditions, State Police don’t always receive information needed to revoke or deny FOID cards. This proposal imposes an additional $50 fine on defendants convicted of certain firearm offenses to fund continuing education for circuit judges and circuit court clerks to improve the reporting of mental health prohibitors to the State Police.
- House Bill 1978 (Floor Amendment #1) improves conflict resolution education in schools. To help prevent school-related violence, this legislation ensures school districts will provide instruction and training in violence prevention and conflict resolution education as part of social-emotional learning standards for all students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. The State Board of Education and local school boards are not required to implement these provisions unless funding is available from private sources, the State, or the federal government.
“We cannot sit idle with the catastrophic gun violence occurring in the streets of Chicago on a daily basis. We know the enemy—the street gangs and members of the drug trade. We can no longer tolerate the loss of innocent children and law-abiding citizens. We are taking a harsh but necessary position with these bills to rid our neighborhoods of this criminal element,” Durkin said.