U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin hosts a listening session with local law enforcement officials and experts to discuss ways to combat gun violence in the area, with Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Aurora Police Chief Gregory Thomas // Photo by Brian Jackson/Sun-Times
At a Chicago meeting on gun violence today, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin predicted a "close vote" in the U.S. Senate when it came to changing gun laws.
"It's going to be a much more difficult task in the House of Representatives," Durbin said. "It's going to take some extraordinary courage for some members of Congress to step forward."
Durbin said there was undoubted political risk in going against the powerful National Rifle Association.
" It certainly is. I can tell you that. I've had their wrath. As a Downstate Congressman I was one of the few who opposed them and they came out to get me and they almost got it done one year," Durbin said. "They're pretty tough, they're pretty organized. They've got a lot of money and a lot of emotion in terms of their cause."
After sitting with top law enforcement leaders in Illinois, Durbin said he believed that politically "we can seize a moment here," and make streets and schools more safe with a serious discussion about gun laws.
Though the national debate has centered on banning military-style type weapons, Chicago top cops made it clear that there are myriad issues locally. That ranged from strict reporting laws to help track a gun's ownership to upping minimum sentences for illegal gun possession to boosting state databases to better identify those with mental health issues.