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August 2, 1999

Ryan Signs 15-20-Life Law To Crack Down On Illegal Gun Use

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed his "15-20-Life" proposal to toughen sentences for criminals who use guns during felony crimes: returning to the Humboldt Park neighborhood where he first proposed the measure last year.

"The illegal use of guns haunts many families. Random gun violence forces people here in Humboldt Park to sleep under their beds or in their bathtubs. No one should have to live like that," Ryan said. "With this new law, people prowling the streets with guns will know they're going to prison for a long time if they use a gun illegally."

Senate Bill 1112 amends the Criminal Code of 1961, the Cannabis Control Act, Controlled Substance Act and the Unified Code of Corrections. It requires additional prison time for persons convicted of using a firearm during the commission of specified felonies. Those felonies include: first degree murder, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, heinous battery, home invasion, armed robbery, aggravated vehicular hijacking and various drug offenses.

If convicted, the felon would receive:

  • An additional 15 years in prison if the felon is in possession of a gun while committing a felony crime.

  • An additional 20 years if the felon is armed and intentionally discharges the weapon.

  • An additional 25 years to life if the felon is armed, intentionally discharges the weapon and causes great bodily harm or the death of any person.

    "Over the course of the last year, all of us have seen too often the tragedy and the fear caused by people who strike out with a gun," the governor added. "Here in Humboldt Park, or Skokie, or Springfield, or Urbana - in Littleton, Colorado and even in our nation's capitol - the criminal use of guns and random shootings is nothing less than terrorism - a terrorism that is creeping too far into our neighborhoods, businesses and schools. The 15-20-LIFE law is one big step toward ending that terrorism."

    Ryan first proposed the passage of a 15-20-LIFE law last summer during a visit to Humboldt Park to talk with the family of German Morales, a three-year-old toddler who was shot in the back and killed on the day after Christmas in 1997. German was riding his new "Big Wheel" toy down a few yards from his home when he was struck by a bullet fired by a gang member.

    The 15-20-LIFE law was sponsored by state senators Kirk Dillard, R-Downers Grove; Carl E. Hawkinson, R-Galesburg; Christine Radogno, R-LaGrange; Wendell E. Jones, R-Palatine; David Sullivan, R-Mt. Prospect; Laura Kent Donahue, R-Quincy; Ed Petka, R-Plainfield; James "Pate" Philip, R-Wood Dale and Kathleen K. Parker, R-Northfield. In the House, the legislation is sponsored by state representatives John Turner, R-Lincoln; Bill O'Connor, R-Berwyn; Renee Kosel, R-New Lenox; Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth; and Anne Zickus, R-Palos Hills.

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