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Ill. Lawmakers Seek Compromise on Gun Crime Sentencing Bill

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) - Talks are expected this week among Illinois state lawmakers to find a middle ground on a bill that would send offenders to jail for three years if they commit a crime with a gun.

The measure, which would impose the stiffer sentence, was supposed to be called for a committee vote last week. The sponsor pulled it over concerns voiced by the National Rifle Association and pro-gun lawmakers, such as State Rep. Brandon W. Phelps (D-Harrisburg).

Phelps fears that the bill, as written, would have unintended consequences that would send the wrong people to jail.

“I don’t think anybody should go to jail for three years for a mistake,” said Phelps. “With the new conceal carry law there’s going to be people that mess up, there’s going to be honest, law-abiding gun owners that are going to make a mistake.”

Phelps says both sides will be meeting this week to work through their differences in the hope of moving the bill next week during the second week of the fall session.

Gov. Pat Quinn said last week that he favors a more comprehensive approach which also addresses high capacity gun magazines.

“Those weapons were used in Newtown, Conn. to kill children, and they were used on the parks of Chicago to shoot at children,” Quinn said.

The governor also expressed concerns about the potential price of the bill. The Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council says the additional inmates in the state’s justice system would cost the state $131 million a year.

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