17th District Cook County Board candidates debate gun control

Candidates in the race for the 17th District Cook County Board seat have different stances when it comes to gun control and whether stricter firearms laws are needed.

Democratic Daniel Calandriello of Orland Park is challenging incumbent Republican Commissioner Sean Morrison of Palos Park for the seat, which represents a district that stretches from the South suburbs to parts of Prospect Heights, Des Plaines and Elk Grove Village, as well as O'Hare International Airport.

Calandriello said we need "better, common sense gun regulation" and notes that many of the guns used in crimes in Cook County come from outside Illinois. Because of that, the solution needs to be regional, he said.

"We need to work with our partners," he added. "We need to force the state's attorney's office to work with our partners on the other side of the borders" to address the issue.

He also advocates for more support for the county sheriff's office and law enforcement in general, including better training and technology to reduce violent crime. The county board needs to evaluate the funding for the state's attorney's office to fully staff courtrooms and reinvest in units that focus on issues such as gangs, he said.

Morrison said that Illinois already has the "highest concentration of restrictive gun laws in the country," including a ban on military-style firearms in Cook County. He noted that Highland Park, the site of the deadly July 4 parade mass shooting, has a similar ban.

"But the fact of the matter is what has that done for us? There is a flooding of ... guns on the market," Morrison said. "(Until there is a) pragmatic conversation to delineate the difference between good gun ownership and bad gun ownership, it's a problem that I don't know that we're going to solve."

Morrison said that according to statistics from the FBI, Chicago and Cook County, as much as 90% of the shootings in Cook County involve handguns. The majority of legal firearm owners in the state are qualified and law-abiding, he added.

"What you need to do is remove the criminal element with the gun," Morrison said.

Among his solutions to the rise in crime are limiting the county's electronic monitoring program to only nonviolent offenders and increasing the prosecutions and sentencing of violent crimes.

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