The Chicago City Council on Wednesday banned the sale and possession of air guns that resemble real firearms, taking action after the recent police shooting of a teenager who was carrying a "replica" BB gun.
"We don't want our officers to hesitate," said Ald. Burton Natarus (42d), who sponsored the measure. "If an officer has to hesitate to see if the gun is real, the officer is going to die…I think this will save the lives of many people."
Ellis Woodland, 14, was shot and seriously wounded in August near the Cabrini-Green public housing complex after police officials said he refused to drop what resembled a 9-mm handgun but, in fact, was a BB pistol.
Neighborhood residents, who disputed the police version of what happened, staged angry protests after the shooting.
Mayor Richard Daley supported the new measure.
"If you're a police officer and somebody pulls a look-alike gun out at you, what are you going to do?" he asked. "Are (police) going to verify it when they shoot it?"
Violators will face fines of $500 to $1,000, a six-month jail term and community service. If the replica is possessed by someone under 18, the parent or guardian could be ordered to pay the fine and perform community service.