Chicago’s crack down on party buses doesn’t ban guns after all

Two men were killed in a recent party bus shooting on Mar. 12, 2017. (Photo: WLS)

Two men were killed in a recent party bus shooting on Mar. 12, 2017. (Photo: WLS)

Chicago’s City Council has a approved a new ordinance cracking down on party buses, with the measure stopping short of banning guns on the vehicles after tough talk from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

WBEZ News reported the ordinance passed Wednesday will require party buses to staff security guards and install surveillance cameras. Illinois’ concealed carry law, which does not prohibit guns from the vehicles, prevented lawmakers from banning firearms altogether.

Emanuel proposed the measure last month after a series of shootings occurred on or around party buses throughout the city.

“Party buses are supposed to be for celebrations, not potential rolling cemeteries,” Ald. Emma Mitts said Wednesday.

Party bus companies who carry 15 or more passengers and serve alcohol will have to add security cameras to the vehicles by June 1. Security guards must be present with groups of 15 or more people, starting May 1.

Companies who break those rules can be fined up to $10,000 and suffer other penalties, such as suspension and cease-and-desist orders.

“We did what we could do within the jurisdiction of what we can do,” Emanuel said Wednesday.

Alderman Michele Smith, of the north side 43rd Ward, said the bus companies should be able to ban firearms, just as bars and restaurants can, CBS Chicago reported.

“Any business that does not want to have guns on its premises should be free to do so,” Ald. Smith said. “That’s a right, as much as the right to bear arms.”

Chief of Assistant Corporation Counsel Jeff Levine said he thought that would require a change in state law and that the argument would need to move up to the state legislature.

“The state law, I believe, defines bars in a way that makes in pretty clear that they are brick-and-mortar, but I think what you are raising is certainly arguments that could be advanced,” Levine said.

Other alderman also supported changing the law to include party buses as places that can prohibit firearms.