Tuesday, August 4, 2015 || By Michael Romain
County stiffens penalties for violators of assault weapons ban
The Cook County Board of Commissioners passed an amendment to the county’s Blair Holt Assault Weapons Ban at a board meeting on July 29. The amendment, sponsored by Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st), changes a section of that ban to reflect stiffer penalties for anyone caught with illegal assault weapons.
First-time violators will now be subject to a fine between $5,000 and $10,000, with subsequent violations punishable by a fine of up to $15,000, and a possible jail term of up to one year. The previous fine for first-time violators was between $1,000 and $5,000, with a subsequent fine of up to $10,000 and a possible jail term of up to six months.
Penalties for violating the assault weapons ban — which is named for 16-year-old Chicago honors student Blair Holt, who was murdered in 2007 by a .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun — were last increased in 2013. This most recent round of increases went into effect as soon as they were passed.
Boykin said the stiffer penalties comprise point six of his Seven Point Plan to combat gun violence in Chicago, which he unveiled earlier this year.
“I am committed to enacting the plan the quickest, most practical way possible. But we cannot get it done all at once, then I will break it into pieces and attempt to pass it point by point […] one of those key pointed passed into law, and I am gratified while recognizing we still have a great deal more work to do,” Boykin noted in a statement.
New law to tighten pawnshop regulations statewide
Gov. Bruce Rauner approved a new law that would make it more difficult for pawnshops to sell items with missing serial numbers, and that would put a floor under how long pawnshops are required to hold onto products before they can sell or transfer them.
The law, which was primarily sponsored by state Sen. Don Harmon (39th) in the senate, amends the Pawnbroker Regulation Act. It goes into effect on January 1, 2016.
“A missing serial number — particularly on something dangerous like a gun or expensive like a phone or computer — is a real problem,” Harmon noted in a statement. “I know most pawnshops don’t want to support criminal activity, but if you resell a major item that’s missing its serial number, you very well might be.”
According to Harmon’s statement, pawnshops will be allowed to accept items that have worn serial numbers, but they’ll need to hold them for at least 15 days before sale. In addition, the law will require pawnshops “to hold on to all items for at least 10 days before sale or transfer (even to another store owned by the same company).”
As an example of the disparte holding periods throughout the state, Harmon noted that, while Chicago pawnshops are required to abide by a 30-day holding period, those in Melrose Park must only hold items for a minimum of 24 hours.
“After seeing the patchwork of holding periods throughout the state, we decided to establish a baseline of 10 days to give law enforcement long enough to track down stolen property,” Harmon stated. “Cities like Chicago and Oak Park will still be able to set stricter requirements.” VFP