Facing criticism from parents worried about their children traveling through dangerous neighborhoods to new schools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel staked out a get-tough stance Wednesday proposing stiffer penalties for gun crimes near schools.
Whether the threat of fines and jail time for carrying guns near schools or designated school routes will cause gang members to reflect on whether they should carry weapons in those areas is unclear, however. In addition, state laws already allow prosecutors to push for considerably more time behind bars than called for under Emanuel's plan for people who break gun laws near schools.
The mayor framed his proposal as the latest step in keeping kids safe in the wake of his move to close dozens of public schools before the school year that starts in fall. He also has ordered firefighters to join police in patrolling the routes children will take to their new schools, trying to head off violence that could escalate the tension over the school closings.