Legislative Update

Press Releases : ICHV In The News


March 17, 2010

Focus on Key Gun Control and Gun Lobby Bills

The current legislative session in Springfield is now well underway, and there are bills out there on both sides that we need to consider.
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First, however, we should provide a little context about what is happening in Springfield these days. This is tough time to move bills through the legislature – in that sense, we are probably in the same situation we have been in for several years. As we know, this year, the legislature faces a major budget issue — even more so than in the past.
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How the legislature deals with budget matters is going to impact our issue – and, in fact, the ability of both sides to focus on the gun issue.

That said, both sides have introduced a number of pieces of legislation that deserve our attention.

Good Bills

Let’s take a look at some of our side’s bills – what is currently out there and what the prospects are for moving things through.
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One of the key issues focuses on the need for universal background checks on all handgun sales. Three bills have been introduced, and there is information to report on all of them:

Senate: In the Senate, SB3632 and SB 3709 have been assigned to the Public Health Committee, but neither measure has moved out of committee.
House: In the House, HB5480 passed out of committee early in March and could receive a vote at any moment

In addition, HB5495 which would limit the sale of handguns to any person to one handgun a month, HB 180 which would require handgun dealers to be licensed by the State of Illinois and HB 6123 which would increase the penalty for providing a gun to a gang member are also in a position to be voted on in the House of Representatives.

We encourage you to contact your Senate and House members to voice your support for these measures. For contact information, just go to ilga.gov and click on “Members” in the House and Senate. You will find both the district and Springfield phone numbers for each legislator.

Bad Bills

The most prominent gun lobby bill of the session focuses on conceal carry legislation. A House bill that was passed out of committee in early March, HB6249, would allow for people to carry concealed weapons in public places.  This bill has not been heard on the House floor for a full vote, but could come up at any moment.

Another gun lobby bill that has passed the Senate and is now in the House– SB1840 — would allow for an individual who is 18 to be able to get a FOID card without parental permission.
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We urge you to contact your legislator in the House of Representatives to oppose these bills.

The gun lobby’s argument on the FOID Card bill is not surprising – the gun lobby complains that young men are able to use guns in war, but they can’t use one here in Illinois.

One question here: If the gun lobby is really just talking about veterans, then why not draft a bill that says that?
The reality behind this bill, however, is that it would make it easier for any 18-year-old to buy AK-47’s and other weapons of that ilk without parental or guardian oversight. Only a small percentage of young men in our communities are, or will eventually be, veterans.

Let’s also keep in mind what we know about the 18-20 year-old age group – when you look at the percentage of people in this group who have accidents in cars, it’s a higher percentage than it is for other groups. That’s not a fact, of course, that you’ll hear from the gun lobby.
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There’s also another bad gun lobby bill we should keep in mind – HB4835. This bill, which is now in the Senate, says that the waiting period for withholding delivery of a firearm should not apply to the transfer of an operable firearm in exchange for another operable firearm.
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Let’s be clear: waiting periods are established for a good reason – so that danger is minimized.  There is no reason to get rid of the waiting period in this situation.

When talking about these issues, we should also repeat a couple of sobering facts. First of all, there are approximately 250,000 private sales of handguns each year in Illinois whose purchasers are not subject background checks in Illinois. Meanwhile, on a national level, data show that background checks are not conducted on about 40 percent of all gun purchases. The whole unregulated (or private) gun sales market is substantial, and we need to do what we can to make as many sales as possible subject to mandatory background checks.
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The Illinois legislature is looking to adjourn by May 7, less than two months from now, with a two-week break for Passover and Easter. Let’s keep in mind the importance of having our say on gun issues.


August 31, 2009

VICTORY!

HB3991 Signed Into Law:
Bill Would Revoke FOID Card for those with Order of Protection

People in favor of stronger gun control laws in Illinois won a victory in last week when Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed HB3991 into law and it became Public Act 96-0701.

The bill, which was an ICHV initiative, requires the mandatory revocation of FOID cards when a person is served an order of protection.

HB3991 requires the Department of State Police to deny an application or to revoke and seize a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card if the applicant or cardholder is subject to an order of protection at the time of application or card issuance.

After the FOID card is revoked, it would by law be turned over to the local law enforcement agency for safekeeping.

On average, well over 100 orders of protection are served in Illinois every day. This bill creates additional protection to members of the public by closing a loophole impacting those served by an order of protection.  When an order of protection is served law enforcement is required to revoke a person’s firearms for the period the order is in place, however if the FOID is not revoked that individual would still have the potential to purchase firearms.  This bill eliminates that possibility.

This is also a bill that received substantial support in both chambers – and from both parties. It is especially important that this bill received broad bipartisan support.  We would urge you to call the House Sponsor Elizabeth Coulson and the Senate Sponsor Heather Steans for their efforts to insure passage of this measure.

This bill is an example of how gun control measures can gain support over time until they finally pass and are signed into law. This measure was first introduced in 2006 and passed the House in 2007, but was held up in the Senate Rules committee in 2008.  Rather than give up, it was important to reintroduce the measure this year since we knew it had solid support and had a good chance of passing both chambers in a new General Assembly.

HB3991 will become effective on January 1, 2010.


August 14, 2009


Senate Defeats Conceal Carry Measure

Last month in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Senate defeated a measure that would have allowed gun owners to carry their weapons across state lines. For a number of years, the conceal carry issue has been a tough one for gun control advocates. As a result, stopping this amendment from passing is a positive sign. It shows that there can be success at the federal level on a difficult issue.

Key senators whose work helped prevent conceal carry from passing included Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York), and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey). Illinois Senator Roland Burris also voted against the bill.

Sen. Durbin and his staff worked with ICHV and our coalition partners during this process to have an impact on the vote.

The bill was turned down narrowly, with 58 senators supporting in and 39 opposing it. To pass, the bill would have needed 60 votes.

Impact of this Vote

It is probably not going too far to say that this is certainly the most significant federal victory on a gun control issue since the Clinton administration, when the Brady Bill and assault weapons ban were passed.

The defeat of this conceal carry measure also sends a message that the NRA can’t just move their agenda in any way they see fit. The fact that gun control advocates have been able to prevent a priority bill from being passed is significant.

In another key development, the NRA said that a vote for Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is “a vote against us.”

That, however, may not make as much of a difference as the NRA would like to have people believe.

The Associated Press even ran a story with the headline “NRA threats on Sotomayor met with shrugs.” The article began: “The National Rifle Association’s threat to punish senators who vote for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has been met with a shrug by Democrats from conservative-leaning states and some Republicans who are breaking with their party to support her.”

What’s Next

Without trying to spoil any good feelings about the conceal carry vote, we believe that gun control advocates are going to have to fight more on the defensive side. In truth, we wouldn’t have been surprised if the conceal carry vote had gone either way. We have not likely seen the end of conceal carry.

In the future, we are hopeful that there will be a discussion on bills we’d like to implement – including a bill that would close the gun show loophole or a bill that would prohibit individuals on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns.

We are not just looking for specific bills to be passed, however. We also want to see a fair dialogue on gun issues – the kind of dialogue that often does not happen. For example, when the assault weapons ban was allowed to expire, it did so without a committee hearing, vote or discussion. If you truly believe in a democratic process, then you should not be concerned when bills you don’t like get full hearings and floor votes.

When there’s no discussion on an issue that many people care about, that’s a disservice to the democratic process – regardless of what side you are on.

On the federal level, if the system is truly fair, it is time for votes to be taken on our measures – not just measures advanced by the gun lobby. In Springfield, the other side gets their votes, and we get ours. In that sense, both sides get a fair shake.

The issue is not whether a bill has an opportunity to win or lose, or whether somebody is going to be re-elected. The issue is that if you are running a fair and just chamber and process, you allow both sides to have their bills treated in the same manner.

In the end, the recent vote on conceal carry shows that there is potential for gun control advocates to win in Washington – and that we can have more of a voice on key issues than we have had in nearly a decade. There are surely many battles in front of us, but we have reason to believe that the NRA can’t run as far and fast with its agenda as it did just a few years ago.


June 8, 2009

End of Session Recap

House Joint Resolution 0051:
Interstate Gun Trafficking Task Force

One significant – yet possibly overlooked – story is that toward the end of the session the Illinois House passed a House Joint Resolution (HJR) that creates an interstate gun trafficking task force.

The resolution was passed unanimously – 117-0.

One thing that’s especially important about this resolution: When you look at the co-sponsors you can see that it has broad support. The resolution was supported by Democrats and Republicans; many downstate legislators supported this resolution, and even some of the strongest NRA supporters were on board for this resolution.

Here is a case where you have people who are A-rated by the NRA agreeing with people who are A-rated with the Brady Campaign.

Some might say that this is “just” a resolution, but this task force will come up with findings and recommendations that could make a difference on this issue. The Task Force will report what it finds to the General Assembly by the end of 2010.

Let’s acknowledge that when a gun control bill comes from gun control advocates, we may see a little skepticism by some legislators because they don’t think the bill addresses a problem that is specific to their particular district. We would, of course, argue that gun violence affects everyone regardless of where you live. In this case however, would-be skeptics have to admit that support for this resolution is broad and includes support from legislators in every part of the state.

This resolution is another example of why we have to look at ways to address the gun issue that can engage everybody. The resolution shows that that, yes, collaboration is possible on this issue in Illinois.


HB3991

Revoking FOID Card for those with Order of Protection
Bill Passes, is Now on Way to Governor

This bill ensures that when someone is served an order of protection, their Firearm Owner Identification Card (FOID) will be revoked. The FOID card, according to this measure, would be “turned over to the local law enforcement agency for safekeeping.” The bill passed out of the House unanimously and is now on its way to the governor.

Why is HB3991 needed? Well, when you look at the fact that over 64,000 orders of protection are served in our state every year – an average of 175 every day – it’s clear why this bill is important.  Under current law when a person is served an order of protection their firearms have to be surrendered to law enforcement for the period the order is in effect.  However, if the FOID is not revoked then the individual still has the ability to obtain firearms.  This is a dangerous loophole that has potentially deadly consequences and we are pleased that the legislature has taken steps to address this issue.

ICHV thanks Representative Beth Coulson and Senator Heather Steans for their sponsorship and leadership on this measure.

This bill was originally introduced in 2007 and passed the House in 2007 but was not considered by the Senate. This is another example of how it can take some time to pass a bill – but if you stay with it, it’s possible to get it passed.

HB0867

This is another significant bill that has passed out of the Senate and is now on its way to the governor. HB0867 would increase penalties for people who use a firearm or possess firearms on school grounds, or possess firearms on a mode of public transportation or at a public transportation facility.

We ask you to contact the governor’s office and urge the governor to sign both HB3991 and HB0867.We also ask you to contact your senator and urge him or her to support HJR 0051.

Conceal Carry and Preemption Bills Fail

In addition, this year marked the biggest push by the gun lobby to pass a conceal carry bill in years. On the heels of last year’s Supreme Court decision (Heller, which protects an individual’s right to possess a handgun for private use), many gun advocates in our state thought they had the momentum to pass a conceal carry bill.  However a conceal carry measure was voted down in a Senate committee and never brought up for a vote in the House after the sponsor acknowledged that he did not have the votes to pass the bill.  This was a significant victory for ICHV and for Illinois residents who don’t believe the solution to preventing more gun death and gun crime is having more guns on our streets.

Another bill supported by the gun lobby would have prohibited county governments from establishing their own gun regulations that are stronger than the state of Illinois.  For example, Cook County prohibits the sale of assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. The ability for county governments to do things like this would have been eliminated if this bill had passed. This bill also fell short of getting needed votes for passage in the House of Representatives.


May 26, 2009

As the current legislative session winds down (the last day would be May 31, if it is not extended), there have been new developments on several bills we have been keeping a close eye on and most of the news is good.

House Bill 867

This bill would increase penalties for using a firearm on or near school grounds, on public transportation or at a public transit facility. This bill has been passed unanimously out of the Senate. The next step is for the bill to go to the governor.

Hopefully, this bill will have an impact on deterring individuals who might consider using a firearm on school property or at a transit station. This measure addresses something we all have a concern about — preventing innocent lives from being lost. The idea, of course, is that we must do something to minimize the risk young people face.

We urge you to contact Governor Quinn and ask him to sign HB 867.

House Bill 3991

This ICHV bill ensures that when someone is served an order of protection, their FOID card will be revoked. The FOID card, according to this measure, would be “turned over to the local law enforcement agency for safekeeping.”

This measure has passed unanimously out of the Senate. Now, it has to go to the House for concurrence, since a few items have been changed since the bill was originally introduced in the House. We expect the House will concur with changes the Senate has made, and that this bill will ultimately go to the governor.

Why do we need this bill? Let’s consider the following. If you are served an order of protection, your firearms are supposed to be revoked. However, if your FOID card is not revoked, you can still purchase firearms. As a result, taking away the FOID card in this situation is extremely important.

We urge you to contact your representative in the House and ask them to support the concurrence motion on HB 3991.

HB 182

This bill focuses on where people can possess a firearm. Originally, the measure said it would not be a violation to carry a firearm in someone else’s home even if the homeowner did not approve of you having a firearm in their home.

An amendment added to the bill has made it more acceptable. Now, the bill says that you can only bring a firearm onto another person’s property if you have that person’s permission. The authority, then, rests in the hands of the property owner.

This bill passed the Senate with the amendment and will go back to the House for concurrence.

While the new amendment made the bill better, we still do not support the measure. In our view the bill increases the risk of unintended gun death and injury since research has shown that a loaded gun in the home is more likely to kill or injure a person in that home than to be used in self-defense.

We urge you to contact your representative in the House and ask them to oppose the concurrence motion on HB 182.


May 12, 2009

Two Strong Bills Get Out of Committee

In the last couple of weeks, two strong bills supported by ICHV were passed out of a Senate committee:

HB0867 would increase penalties for people who use a firearm or possess firearms on school grounds, or possess firearms on a mode of public transportation or at a public transportation facility. The bill “provides for enhanced penalties for carrying or possessing firearms or other dangerous weapons in a conveyance owned, leased, or contracted by a public transportation agency or on a public way within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising a public transportation facility.”

One important area this bill is trying to get at, and help prevent, are tragedies involving students — where students are shot on or near school grounds, on public transportation or at a public transportation facility.

HB3991 is a measure that will ensure that when someone is served an order of protection, their FOID (Firearm Owner Identification) card will be revoked by law enforcement. This bill addresses a dangerous loophole because when an individual is served an order of protection they are supposed to lose the privilege to possess a firearm but if they have their FOID card they still have the ability to possess or purchase a firearm.

This bill, which is an ICHV initiative, has already passed out of the House and last week it passed through a Senate committee with bipartisan support. Now, it is in a position to be voted on and approved by the full Senate.

Either of these bills could be considered by the Senate any time before adjournment on May 31.

We urge you to contact your state senator and encourage him or her to support these bills.

Bill: People invited to your house can bring their handgun

One recent development that we did not support concerned HB0182, which was passed out of committee in the Senate and is now in a position to be voted on before May 31 in the Senate. The bill has already been passed out of the House.

The bill extends where people can possess a handgun. What it says is that it would not be a violation to carry a firearm in a legal dwelling or a place where you are an invitee. In other words, if you are invited to my house, this measure basically says you are not only welcome — but you can come with your own firearm.

From ICHV’s perspective, this is a bad bill. When we invite someone over to our house, we are inviting them to come over — not inviting their gun to come over.

This is another way for people to carry loaded guns in places outside of their homes. Do the majority of people in Illinois really want people to bring a gun to a backyard barbecue, holiday gathering or other event in their home?

The bottom line is, I am inviting you to my home — I am not inviting you and your Glock. People in this state have consistently made their feelings known that having guns in one’s own home is a matter of your personal business — but when you bring guns outside of the home, onto the streets, or into another home or a public building, that is my business. We believe most Illinoisans think it’s not OK to come over to someone’s house — and bring a loaded gun with you.

One thing that is happening here is that the gun lobby can’t get a full-scale conceal carry bill passed, so what they are trying to do is establish other places that loaded guns should be allowed.

We urge people to call their state senator and ask them to oppose HB0182.

Thank you for your support and dedication to reducing gun violence.


April 10, 2009


Focus on the New Legislative Session

Illinois legislators are on break right now and will resume their work on April 21.
A few weeks ago we sent information to you on three state legislative measures we were following before the legislature went home. Here is an update on those measures.

Conceal Carry On “Life Support”

It is likely at this time that conceal carry in Illinois — which is strongly supported by the gun lobby — is now on life support. A couple of conceal carry bills in the House were never brought to the House floor for a vote — and were sent back to the House rules committee.

In this case, the legislature appears to reflect the will of the people of Illinois. The general public doesn’t like the idea of conceal carry, which would allow people to carry guns in public places.

We believe it’s likely that the gun lobby knows that it doesn’t have the votes to pass a conceal carry measure.

HB0048 Comes Up Short

This bill, which would require universal background checks, narrowly fell short of passage in the House. We were realistic about this bill’s chances and knew that it could fall short or pass by a handful of votes or less.

It is important to say that this is an issue we will continue to work on and pursue. The history of other gun control measures tells us that educating people about the need for background checks takes time. For example, getting a bill passed that effectively closed the gun show loophole took five years to pass. In that situation, licensed dealers at gun shows were required to conduct background checks, while unlicensed sellers did not have to conduct background checks. Clearly, there was an issue that needed to be addressed. In this case, there is a similar situation. Licensed dealers must conduct background checks; unlicensed sellers can legally sell handguns to individuals — but no background check is required.

The universal background check bill was first introduced a couple of years ago. We believe that if we stay vigilant on this issue, we will achieve our goal of requiring universal background checks in Illinois. We need to continue working this issue with everyone who supports it.

Other News

A positive development worth mentioning here relates to a bill that would have pre-empted counties from establishing regulations on firearms stronger than the state’s regulations on firearms. The bill came up several votes short in the House, and that is good news. The pre-emption of local gun laws, whether at the municipal or county level, has been strongly supported by the gun lobby.

Finally, there is also good news on HB3991. This measure says that when people are served orders of protection, their FOID Card is mandatorily revoked.

This bill passed almost unanimously in the House, and has moved over to the Senate. We urge people to call their senators and ask them to support HB3991.


March 24, 2009

Conceal Carry Falls Short in Senate Committee

At a time when the state’s gun lobby has made a priority of passing conceal carry legislation in Illinois, we are learning that key members of the Senate do not support such a measure.

During the week of March 9, the Illinois Senate held a hearing on conceal carry legislation, and the legislation failed to garner needed support.

The next day, members of the gun lobby held a “lobby day” in Springfield. They clearly had less to celebrate because of the lack of support for conceal carry legislation. Obviously, it burns the gun lobby to know that Illinois is one of two states that has no form of conceal carry for private citizens. What the gun lobby won’t say, though, is that it hasn’t had huge backing for conceal carry in other states — just enough political muscle to garner some support.

Any vote on conceal carry would likely fail in the Illinois House. However, even if it did pass in the House, trying to pass such a bill would almost be an exercise in futility because any successful bill needs to go through both chambers

Why is the failure of conceal carry in the Senate significant? One reason is that on the heels of the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, some members of the gun lobby appeared to believe that there was momentum on key issues, including conceal carry (the Heller decision protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for private use).

The reality is that the decision hasn’t had much of an impact on legislators. Clearly, in Illinois key legislators feel that conceal carry is not necessary. When we are talking about the idea of bringing loaded guns into the public area, this is one issue on which gun groups haven’t been able to bully legislators in Illinois. The gun lobby can make all of the arguments it wants to; it still comes down to the basic reality that the general public doesn’t like the idea of people carrying guns in public places. This is a case in which elected officials don’t see why we need more guns in the mix because a very small number of individuals see that as their right.

Our message on this issue is that we have to keep fighting to stop conceal carry, but let’s not believe for a minute that the gun lobby is somehow all-powerful.

We may not have heard the last of conceal carry this session, and the recent Senate committee vote does not mean the gun lobby is giving up on it. What we have seen, though, is that it is more and more obvious that the gun lobby in Illinois does not represent the mainstream.

We should note that the conceal carry measure failed in the Senate’s Public Health Committee, a failure that suggests conceal carry laws do not meet our state’s public health needs.

Keeping an Eye on Background Check Bill

Meanwhile, HB 0048, which would require background checks on all handgun sales, is closer to being passed than it was last year.

This bill appears as if it is going to pass or fail by one or two votes in either direction. We need to get 60 votes in the House for this measure to pass, and have not yet seen a solid commitment from a few legislators. Let’s keep in mind that reaching 60 is more of a factor when trying to pass a bill than when trying to stop it. Those who oppose a bill in the House only need to have 59 votes on their side, while those who support a bill in the House need 60 to pass it.

We urge you to remain vigilant in support of this bill.

More Positive News

One measure we introduced last year recently passed through a House committee. The bill, HB 3991, requires the revocation of FOID cards when a person is served an order of protection.

What is especially important here is that the bill passed through the House committee unanimously. We are cautiously optimistic that this bill can now get through the House

Please check back for more updates on legislation.


March 6, 2009

In this legislative update, we will focus on two bills currently under consideration in Springfield — one that we support and one that we oppose.We urge you to contact your legislators and tell them to oppose conceal carry.

In the coming weeks, you can make a big difference by reaching out to legislators — and letting others know about these key bills so they can contact their legislators as well.

HB0048 was passed out of its House committee last week.

This bill would require universal background checks on all handgun sales. HB0048 “provides that a federally licensed firearm dealer shall conduct a background check on the prospective recipient of the firearm and follow all other applicable federal, State, and local laws as if he were the seller of the firearm.”

One of the things you will hear from the gun lobby and other opponents of HB0048 is that there are already adequate background checks for gun sales. After all, they say, all purchasers must have a FOID Card to purchase firearms.

In light of the facts, though, this argument doesn’t make sense. Last year, the Illinois State Police denied over 800 purchases because of background checks on prospective buyers– or more than two a day. Once these background checks were run, would-be gun purchasers were flagged as being prohibited purchasers.

One problem is that once you have a FOID Card, you may still have that card even if you commit a felony or do something that causes you to be on the list of prohibited purchasers.

Across the country, we know that there are over 100,000 gun sales that are denied annually because of criminal background checks conducted by licensed gun dealers. National estimates also show that as many as one out of three sales of a firearm happen through an unlicensed seller. Unlicensed sellers of firearms in Illinois are not required to conduct background checks on buyers. We have good reasons to take a closer look at anyone trying to purchase a firearm — and at the activities of unlicensed sellers.

The problem is, in person-to-person sales, we really don’t know much about the background of the purchasers. Once again, let’s look at the numbers. The state gun lobby�fs own figures say that there are more than 700 private transactions involving handguns in the state every day. Don’t we want to know who is making those purchases? Clearly, the mere presence of a FOID Card doesn’t fully protect our safety.

It is very clear that the lack of background checks in person-to-person sales is an extension of the gun show loophole which was successfully closed in 2005. When it comes to the purchase of firearms, it’s time for us to close all loopholes that prevent us from finding out the background of purchasers.

Last year, this bill was two votes short of passing in the House of Representatives; this year, we are expecting another close vote. For those of you who live in suburban Chicago districts, you should know that your legislators will very likely play a pivotal role in what happens to this bill.

The next step is for the House to hold a full floor vote on this bill. We urge you to contact your legislator and encourage him or her to support HB0048.

Two conceal carry bills HB 245 and HB 367 have passed committee in the House of Representatives.

Like the universal background check bill, here is a case where 15-20 members of the House could vote either way. If you live in suburban Cook County or the collar counties, your legislators could very well make the difference.

The great majority of people in Illinois do not support the idea of people carrying concealed weapons. In fact, a poll conducted by Voices for Illinois Children showed that over 70 percent of Illinoisans polled said they oppose the carrying of concealed weapons by private citizens. That finding is consistent with national polls on this issue.

These findings tell us that it is one thing for someone to keep a weapon in their home — but when you bring firearms into a public place, that impacts all of us.

The gun lobby will tell you that 48 of 50 states have conceal carry laws on the books. In a lot of those states, however, you can only get a conceal carry permit with the approval of law enforcement. Many of the states that passed this kind of law did so many years ago, when the NRA targeted legislators who did not support this policy. The message was clear: If you don’t support us, we are coming after you. Support for conceal carry in the past had nothing to do with a groundswell of support — it was really about intimidation. We don’t need to let that happen in Illinois.

We urge you to contact your legislators and tell them to oppose conceal carry.


January 12, 2009


Looking Ahead in 2009


by Thomas Mannard, ICHV Executive Director

FEDERAL OUTLOOK

On a legislative level, we know that for the last eight years, the gun lobby has basically controlled the federal agenda. This is not surprising — after all, the gun lobby has had a friendly administration to work with. One recent example: in early December, the Bush administration’s Department of the Interior announced that people who have a concealed weapons permit in their state can bring a loaded weapon into national parks, forests, and refuges.

We are, we hope and believe, about to see a very different situation once Barack Obama takes office on January 20. As opposed to the rubber stamp for the gun lobby that we saw from the Bush administration, we hope to have a backstop in the White House — a last line of defense on bad gun legislation. That is especially important, because when you look at the 535 members of Congress, it’s true that the gun lobby has votes to push forward an agenda where guns are more easily accessible — and where protections are more easily dismissed.

The type of legislation we would like to see at the federal level will continue to have a hard time making it through Congress. At the same time, it’s much more likely that the power of the veto will be used. In addition, with Barack Obama you do have somebody who is willing to talk about the need for regulation.

In the last eight years, we saw bills that aimed to close the gun show loophole– but these bills never received committee hearings. In 2004, an assault weapons bill expired, and there wasn’t even a hearing on whether that should happen.

We understand that Obama and his administration may not talk about these issues in his first year, or even first term. But we do sense that that there could be a greater willingness in Congress to consider holding committee hearings on whether it makes sense to reinstate the assault weapons ban, conduct background checks on all sales at gun shows, or address other key issues.

During the Clinton administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was empowered to publish reports that went into detail about where crime guns are coming from. In recent years, ATF has been prohibited from publishing those reports. Why are these reports so important? Well, the gun lobby knows that information on gun products can hurt its cause.

Maybe more light is now going to shine on the gun lobby — at the very least, there is potential for that to happen. The president could overturn the recent national parks ruling; ATF could share more key information with Congress, and Congress might at least be able to have more informational hearings on key gun issues.

ILLINOIS OUTLOOK

As we noted in a post-election edition of ICHV Insights, two representatives in the Illinois House who were supported by the NRA were defeated by people supported by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. This means we should have greater support for our agenda as we enter 2009. However, it is important to be realistic about what the playing field looks like. We are not likely to see wholesale changes in gun laws in Illinois, for either side. At the same time, the bottom line for us is in many ways encouraging. We will continue to have the ability to move forward on a legislative agenda that is aggressive and positive. And, we know that we have a very good chance of stopping unfavorable bills.

If you look at recent history, we have been able to make some very good gains in Illinois:

  • 2005: Gun show loophole passed;
  • 2007: Bill requiring better and faster reporting of mental health records in the background check system that would prohibit a person from purchasing a gun;
  • 2008: A bill passed that paved the way for stronger prosecution of adults who provide guns to minors who commit violent acts.

Clearly, over the last four years, we have been able to make incremental progress. We have also been able to help prevent the two biggest items on the gun lobby agenda — a concealed-carry bill, and a bill that would prevent local governments from having stronger gun regulations than the state of Illinois. These important steps sometimes get overshadowed by stalled efforts to pass other pieces of legislation.

All told, there are very few states like Illinois that are looking to move gun control bills forward. In many cases, states are simply on the defense against the gun lobby. The environment continues to be a favorable one for us. Right now, the General Assembly has many supportive members, and new Senate President John J. Cullerton (D-Chicago) has been a leader on gun control issues.

LOCAL OUTLOOK

On the city and county level, what happens in 2009 could be impacted by how people see last summer’s Heller decision, in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment protects an individuals right to possess a firearm for private use.

Let’s keep an eye on how this law impacts this issue. It’s possible that the Heller case is going to turn into an excuse for municipalities not to do anything. At the same time, we would not be surprised at all if the gun lobby goes out of its way to say that the Heller case prevents local actions on gun issues. Now, let’s consider what the ruling really means. Heller was specific to the ability of people to have firearms in their homes. What gun lobby supporters won’t tell you is that the decision indicated there can be reasonable regulations on firearms. Therefore, local governments should not be discouraged from moving forward on different types of laws that regulate firearms and their distribution.

All of us at ICHV hope for a more peaceful 2009 in Illinois and wish all of you health and happiness in the new year.


June 26, 2008


Statement on Supreme Court’s Ruling to Overturn D.C. Gun Ban

The ruling was disappointing, but not surprising. It’s important in this situation to consider the sources of this ruling. For example, when President Bush appointed Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, Alito had already said that Congress has no authority to even ban the sale of machine guns. Alito is one of the five justices in the “majority” in this case.

In a death penalty case, Alito once cited the judgment of Louisiana lawmakers to back up his point of view. Now, he takes sides against the gun ban – despite the overwhelming support for the ban by the Washington, D.C. City Council. He has ignored prevailing public opinion when it does not match his own opinion, but cites it when it does.

Like many, we believe that the United States has the best judicial system in the world. But to think that five people can overturn a policy supported by hundreds of thousands in the D.C. area and every member of the City Council – well, that decision needs to be questioned. With all due respect, the fact that five people have this opinion does not mean it is something we should accept.

At the same time, the court’s ruling was hardly as unqualified as some supporters may claim. Justice Antonin Scalia said in his opinion that the ruling should not be interpreted as one that lets criminals and the mentally ill own a handgun. In addition, the court “apparently allowed for the retention of the law’s ban on most semiautomatic weapons,” according to the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center.

In the coming weeks, it is highly likely that we will see a challenge to the handgun ban in Chicago. There is no doubt that Chicago is the biggest target of those who support this kind of ban. (In the Chicago area, other municipalities have also voted to ban handguns, including Evanston, Wilmette, Morton Grove and Oak Park).

The news is full of stories about the Supreme Court’s decision against the D.C. handgun ban. Here in Chicago, the decision has already sparked interest in how the city’s ban will be affected.

What is at stake, however, goes far beyond what five justices decided on Thursday morning. Consider, for example, what happened in Joliet on Wednesday, June 25. In that city, a 3-year-old boy was playing with a .45-caliber handgun and shot himself in the head. The boy died. When we talk about guns, we invariably hear about the self-defense, among other issues. We need to broaden this discussion so that it includes what is really happening – handguns play a tragic role in unintentional deaths and suicides.

The Court’s ruling, of course, creates another opportunity in the coming months – for voters, who should consider the importance of Supreme Court justices when they vote for president, since presidents have the ability to appoint these justices.

About 80 Americans die each day from guns. Amid the news about the D.C. gun ban, let’s taker a closer look at what we can do to make our world safer.


May 29, 2008


Triumph in Illinois Senate

Tuesday, the Illinois Senate unanimously passed a piece of gun-related legislation that we, and many others, believe will have a positive impact on the safety of people in the state.

The bill, HB 4628, focuses on what should happen when a person 18 years of age or younger commits a felony with a gun that was sold or given to them by an adult. If the bill becomes law, adults who are responsible for “selling or giving a concealable firearm” to a person under 18 years of age who uses that firearm to commit a felony can face similar felony charges. Currently, adults can face up to three years in prison.

The bill says that if an adult provides a firearm to someone under 18 who does not have a FOID Card and used a firearm to commit or attempt a forcible felony, that adult could face felony charges.

HB 4628 also received unanimous support in the House of Representatives

What was unusual about this bill is that there was no significant opposition to it. In the vast majority of situations, there is opposition — either from us or from the other side.

What this tells us is that, in this case, the Illinois Legislature clearly feels that adults who own or purchase guns need to take responsibility for their actions.

Every day, we may see guns used by teenagers in neighborhoods around the state — even though it is illegal for most teens to possess guns of any type. This bill states that if any adult knowingly provides firearms to individuals who should be prohibited from possessing them, those adults need to be punished accordingly.

In Illinois, a state law mandates that firearms have to be locked and inaccessible to kids under the age of 14. Since that law passed in 1999, we’ve seen a decrease in the number of young people killed every year in incidents that involved a handgun. We believe that the age of kids protected by this law should be raised even further, to the age of 18.

Still Time to Act

For another key bill, SB 1007, there’s still time for all of us to act. SB 1007 prohibits the sale, possession and manufacturing of high capacity ammunition feeding devices.

What can we do? We can continue to call our House members in support of this bill.

Please note: If this bill is voted on before May 31st it would need only a simple majority — or one more than half of all votes cast — to pass. If it is voted on after June 1st, it would be passed only if three-fifths of all legislators vote for it. It’s still possible that this bill will come up before Saturday, May 31st at midnight. If a bill is passed before June 1st, it will go to the governor and can be signed into law.

We will keep you updated as developments occur on these issues. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give us a call at 312-341-0939 or 217-744-7383.


May 19, 2008

We are entering the last two scheduled weeks of the legislative session. What should we expect? It’s possible that several important bills on gun issues will come up this week in Springfield. This week, we are looking at two House bills that are now being considered in the Senate — and one Senate bill that needs to be approved by the House.

Let’s take a look at these bills and how we can make a difference:

HB4628

The bill focuses on what should happen when a person 18 years of age or younger commits a felony with a gun that was sold or given to them by an adult. If the bill becomes law, adults who are responsible for �gselling or giving a concealable firearm�h to a person under 18 years of age who uses that firearm to commit a felony can face similar felony charges. Currently, adults can face up to three years in prison.

The bill says that if an adult provides a firearm to someone under 18 who does not have a FOID Card and used a firearm to commit or attempt a forcible felony, that adult could face felony charges.

This bill received unanimous support in the House of Representatives.

HB4628 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Criminal Law Committee for this week. It is scheduled to come up at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 21.

HB5191

This bill provides that state police may revoke a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card of a parent or guardian who is unable to prevent his or her child under 21 years of age from gaining access to a firearm when the child has 1) upon 2 occasions had possession of his parent or guardian’s firearm or ammunition with the parent or guardian’s permission, and 2) met criteria for a major mood or conduct disorder, or both, as defined in the DSM-IV TR published by the American Psychiatric Association. The bill also applies to children who are adjudicated delinquent minors who have committed acts involving aggressive or violent behavior.

This bill is also scheduled to be voted on by the Senate Judiciary Criminal Law Committee at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 21.


We also continue to support SB1007, which prohibits the sale, possession and manufacturing of high capacity ammunition feeding devices. Please continue to call your House members in support of this bill.

Why It’s Important to Pass These Bills Now

One reason why now is an excellent time to pass these bills is that if they are voted on before May 31 they would need only a simple majority — or one more than half of all votes cast — to pass. If they are voted on after June 1, they would be passed only if three-fifths of all legislators vote for them. In a climate where one or two votes can make a major difference, we know without a doubt that many bills stand a better chance of passing with a simple majority.

If these bills are passed before June 1, they will go to the governor and can be signed into law.

What You Can Do

For all of these bills, we urge you to call your legislator. For HB4628 and HB5191, call your senators. For SB1007, please call your House member. Here is a chance for us to really make a difference on pieces of legislation that are about to be voted on.

We will keep you updated as developments occur on these issues. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give us a call at 312-341-0939 or 217-744-7383.


April 30, 2008

In our last legislative update, we talked about what happened with a few bills we lost. We urged you to contact legislators who didn?t support those bills, in order to voice your opinions about their votes. Now, we also want to make sure that we thank people who did support us.

It is important to mention that in many cases, even when we fall short on House or Senate votes, we still receive considerable support from a wide range of legislators.

For example, consider HB0758, which mandates universal background checks for people who want to purchase handguns. We needed to get 60 votes on this measure. In the end, 58 legislators voted “Yea” and 58 legislators voted “Nay.”

We urge you to contact the many legislators who supported this measure. All you have to do is click on the link below and you?ll find a list that indicates how specific legislators voted. This list is actually the roll call in the General Assembly for this piece of legislation, which was taken earlier this month:

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ROLL CALL

This vote, of course, not only shows just how many legislators supported us ? but also how critical one or two votes can be.


SB 1007 — a measure that would prohibit the sale of high capacity ammunition magazines.

This bill has already passed through the Senate and a House Committee. It is currently in a position to be voted on by the entire House.

HB4553 — This measure, the Community Youth Employment Act, provides that the state?s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will create a competitive grants program for 2,500 Illinois youth. Through the program, youth will receive stipends and supervision over a six-week summer work period. Community-based organizations would administer the program, which would reach youth in low-income communities.

The bill sets forth criteria for receiving grants under the Act. This program has merit, according to ICHV, because it can help reduce gun violence by providing positive opportunities for youth ? opportunities that might not otherwise exist. Youth who don?t have opportunities, especially in the summer, are more likely to engage in dangerous behaviors that might include getting involved with guns.

HB 4553 has passed the House of Representatives and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us via email at [email protected]

Thank you for your support and dedication to reducing gun violence.


April 22, 2008


Take a close look at the Illinois legislature these days, and you?ll find the reason why several promising gun control bills have been defeated in the House this month.

In the last couple of weeks, House Republicans from the suburban Chicago area prevented three key bills from moving forward in Springfield. In particular, 16 House Republicans from the suburbs voted against legislation that would have mandated criminal background checks on handgun sales and prohibited the sale of no more than one handgun a month. In addition, they also voted against another important measure. Currently, Illinois law states that parents are required to safely store firearms so that they are not accessible to children and teens under the age of 14. Another bill would raise that standard to the age of 18.

We need to be absolutely clear about what happened here. This is not a planned uprising among Republicans in favor of specific pieces of gun legislation. It is, rather, a damaging blow against what voters want ? a blow largely caused by phone calls and emails delivered repeatedly by the NRA. During this legislative session, House Republicans from suburban Chicago have made decisions on the gun issue based on calls from a vocal and intimidating minority.

If you are from Lake, McHenry, Cook, DuPage, Kane and Will Counties, it?s likely that a legislator who caved to pressure tactics on bills aiming to reduce gun violence represents your county.

In a month when the deadly impact of guns is a major story in the news, this story is especially ironic. In Chicago alone during the weekend of April 18-20, 32 people were shot and 6 were killed. We should add, however, that this news is not especially surprising — one could come up with a list of deadly, and often preventable, gun-related tragedies in Illinois every month of the year.

We strongly believe that bills cited above are a positive example of measures that can make a difference in the lives of families and communities. Now, let?s take a closer look. Keep in mind the following:

  • House Republicans, in all of these cases, were simply responding to a group that does not represent their constituency;
  • Despite the fears of various legislators, it is important to remember that there is absolutely no proof voting against the NRA in suburban Chicago has hurt an elected official?s chances to be elected;
  • A 2007 poll conducted by the Illinois Campaign to Prevention Gun Violence, has demonstrated strong support for gun control measures in Illinois;
  • None of these laws would impact law-abiding gun owners or threaten their rights in any way;
  • In the case of one bill (HB0758, which mandates universal background checks), two votes from House Republican voters in the suburbs would have helped pass the bill out of the House;
  • None of the House Republicans from the suburbs — none of them — spoke out against the universal background check bill during a debate in the House

We can place the loss of key pieces of legislation that aim to reduce gun violence squarely at the feet of these legislators:
Suzanne Bassi
Mark Beaubien, Jr.
Patricia Bellock
Bob Biggins
Franco Coladipietro
Sandy Cole
Tom Cross (House Republican Leader)
Mike Fortner
Brent Hassert
Renee Kosel
JoAnn Osmond
Sandy Pihos
Harry Ramey
Dennis Reboletti
Tim Schmitz
Mike Tryon

Intelligence from several sources indicated that at least ten Republicans would support the bill on universal background checks.

Also, we believe it is important to note that Senate Republicans have been more supportive than their House counterparts various measures designed to reduce violence in the course of this General Assembly.


A couple of things are next.

First, it will be critical for us to get out the word to these legislators and the public that we disagree strongly with these votes. One of the most powerful ways to do that, of course, is by making sure that people who are voting this November know all about how their local legislator failed to support legislation designed to make our communities safer. We can, for example, contact the media. We can encourage local media to ask legislators serious questions; perhaps they can ask them how many of the people sending emails and making phone calls to them on gun legislation are actually from their district.

We also urge constituents of suburban Chicago legislators to contact them in the next week — and ask them why they don?t support consistent criminal background checks and other key measures. What their recent vote on universal background checks does is make it easier for prohibited people to find ways to buy guns.

We need to call our legislators ? not just once, but many times.

How we communicate what is at stake here in the coming months – and years – is critical. We can play a major role in raising public awareness about the impact of gun violence.

Let?s face reality: The people who oppose bills that could reduce gun violence may feel, however wrongly, that they have something to lose because they are gun owners. They are highly motivated. Meanwhile, there are many other issues that may be more immediate to most citizens ? like education, health care or the price of gas. What we know, however, is the evidence that is right in front of us: 30,000 Americans die from gun wounds every year. We have no doubt that that number can be reduced in a major way ? and that, together, we can raise awareness in a way that makes a difference.

Good News

During this legislative session, one bill we supported received unanimous support in the House: HB4628. The bill focuses on what should happen when a child kills someone with a gun that was owned by an adult. If the bill becomes law, adults who are responsible for ?selling or giving a concealable firearm? to a person under 18 years of age could face murder charges (adults in this case can include gun dealers). Currently, adults can face up to three years in prison.

It?s important to note here that HB4628 is a bill that received support from both sides, which shows that sometimes wide-ranging agreement can happen on gun-related bill. At a time when more and more teens are being killed by guns, this measure tries to focus on adults who may be providing those guns.

HB4628 is now in the Illinois Senate.

We urge people to contact state senators and support this measure. The senate sponsors are Kwame Raoul (D-13th District) and Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th District).

Thank you for your support and dedication to reducing gun violence.


March 20, 2008

The Illinois Legislature is out of session for two weeks, and will be back on Tuesday, April 1, 2008.

During this break, many legislators will be in their district offices. Now is a critical time to contact them about gun control measures.

On Tuesday, March 11, the gun lobby held a ?gLobby Day,?h going to the capital with hundreds of people (many fewer, however, than it claimed). The Illinois State Rifle Association, National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers in Illinois descended upon Springfield to express their opposition to sensible gun control measures. Now is a good time for us to counteract their efforts by making calls to our districts, sending letters and emails, or stopping by your legislator?fs office.


One key piece of news to report this week focuses on HB5227. The bill would prohibit the sale or transfer of a handgun without a handgun safety device. HB5227 would apply to the sale of handguns by private persons as well as federally licensed firearms dealers.

The bill got out of committee during the week of Monday, March 10.

Currently, when a handgun is sold by a federally licensed firearms dealer in Illinois, the handgun has to include an external safety lock or the gun has to have an internal safety lock (like an internal switch).

The law mandating that handguns sold by federally licensed dealers contain handgun safety devices was passed in 2005. The current law would simply require the same for privately sold handguns.

It is likely that more than one-third of all handgun sales are private. For purchasers and sellers, one advantage of dealing with a private sale is that there is no background check involved. In Illinois, a FOID Card (Firearm Owners Identification Card) must be provided in every sale. Private sellers of firearms, however, just have to keep a record of transactions ?| not report them.

What this means is that we have very little information about gun sales involving unlicensed sellers.

HB5227 ideally would ensure that gun owners have a safety device in their gun so that a gun wouldn?ft be used by others. For example, without these devices, we believe it would be more likely for accidental shootings or suicides to happen.


Other important bills being considered include:

HB0758 — This bill would require universal background checks on handguns. HB0758 is on the House floor and is ready for a vote.

HB4357 — This assault weapons bill has been voted out of committee and can be moved for a vote at any time. This bill prohibits assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

SB1007 — This bill would ban the sale and possession of large capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. In many of the recent highly-publicized shootings around the country, the guns used were equipped with large capacity magazines, giving shooters the ability to fire dozens of bullets in a matter of seconds. This measure is also in a position to be voted on in the House at any time.


Two bills would allow people to carry concealed firearms in public places: HB1304 and HB4544.

One bill, HB5506, would prohibit counties in Illinois from regulating firearms in a way that would make county law stricter than state law. This bill is most likely a response to measures introduced in Cook County.

We urge you to tell your legislator that you oppose these conceal carry and pre-emption legislation bills.

For more information, you can also go to the website of the Illinois General Assembly, www.ilga.gov

We will keep you updated as developments occur on these issues. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give us a call at 312-341-0939 or 217-744-7383.

Thank you for your support and dedication to reducing gun violence.


March 7, 2008

ICHV Legislative Udpate for March 2008

More and more activity on gun-related legislation will take place in the coming months as the Illinois Legislature moves forward with its current session. We will see activity on a number of key bills, and would like to share information about them in this ICHV Legislative Update.

Meanwhile, when a bill warrants quick action, we will keep you informed about what is needed.

Bills We Support

Last week, committee hearings were held on two key bills that we support:

HB4357 — This bill prohibits assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. HB4357 was passed out of House Executive Committee during the week of Monday, February 25.

HB4628 — This bill would increase penalties for people over 18 who are convicted of selling or giving concealable firearms to anyone under 18 years of age. HB4628 has also been passed out of House Executive Committee.

Other Bills We Support

HB4393 — This bill says that no more than one handgun can be sold to a person in a 30-day period. HB4393 also passed out of committee during the week of February 25.

HB0731 ?| Currently, Illinois law states that parents are required to safely store firearms so that they are not accessible to children and teens under the age of 14. This bill would raise that standard to the age of 18. This law says that if a minor gets access to a gun, causes death or bodily harm, the penalty for the parent goes from Class C to Class A misdemeanor. This measure is currently on the House floor — and can be heard at any time.

HB0758 — Requires universal background checks on all handgun sales. This measure has also been moved to the House floor for a vote.

HB0796 — This bill provides for state licensing for any dealer selling handguns. It has been assigned to committee.

Bills we oppose

HB1304 and HB4544 (these bills are essentially the same) — Both bills allow people to carry concealed firearms in public places. In the wake of the tragedy at Northern Illinois University, there have been individuals calling for the possibility of allowing students and teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus. We know that there is not a great deal of support for these measures, but we do feel it’s extremely important to tell legislators how we feel about this idea.

We urge you to oppose conceal carry. Please tell your legislators that you oppose any conceal carry legislation.

Please note that Illinois is one of two states that has no form of “concealed carry” for loaded firearms.

HB5506 — This would prohibit counties in Illinois from regulating firearms in a way that would make county law stricter than state law. This bill is most likely a response to measures introduced in Cook County. This measure has been passed out of committee in the House.

We will keep you updated as developments occur on these issues. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give us a call at 312-341-0939 or 217-744-7383. Thank you for your support and dedication to reducing gun violence.


January 17, 2008

ICHV Joins Amicus Brief Filing in Support of DC Handgun Ban

In January 2008, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV) joined with dozens of local, state, and national groups to file an amicus brief in the case of Heller v. District of Columbia, regarding the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last year to strike down the local ordinance in Washington, DC which prohibited the possession of handguns. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Heller case after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declared the city’s handgun ban unconstitutional in a split ruling in March 2007. This marked the first time in history that a gun control law has been struck down on Second Amendment grounds. The Circuit Court’s ruling could affect not just D.C.’s gun laws, but gun laws across the country. The amicus brief effort is being spearheaded by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. Along with all the supporters of the amicus brief, ICHV and the Educational Fund believe that D.C.’s gun laws are constitutional and assert that the Second Amendment preserves the ability of states to protect the lives, liberty, and property of their citizens through firearms regulation. We will keep you informed as developments occur on this brief.

To view a copy of the amicus brief, please click here. To visit the website of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, please click here.


January 3, 2008

Looking Ahead in 2008

State Level
The Illinois House and Senate will begin the upcoming General Assembly on January 9, 2008. For a complete schedule of when both the House and Senate will be in session, go to the 95th General Assembly Session Schedule at http://ilga.gov/house/schedules/default.asp (House) and http://ilga.gov/senate/schedules/default.asp (Senate).

As we begin a new year, it is important to understand that “yes” votes in 2007 are not necessarily “yes” votes in 2008, and “no” votes are not necessarily “no” votes in 2008. Let’s keep in mind that we are in many ways starting from scratch, and we must make our voices heard on key gun issues.

We also need to acknowledge the dynamics that often come with an election year. The Illinois primary will be held on Tuesday, February 5, 2008. That is the day on which the largest number of state primary contests will be held next year.

How will this date impact the gun issue in Illinois? It is very likely that most gun votes will happen after the primary because the Illinois state legislature will only be in regular sessions a couple of times before the primary.

The early primary date could be helpful for gun violence prevention issues because some legislators may want to vote on these issues in a way that helps prevent them from being criticized during the general election.

After the primary, candidates will be faced with a general election on November 4, when supporting our position on a gun issue could help them.

History also tells us that there is more going on in the state legislature in odd-numbered years.

Another factor that could come into play is that several members in both chambers are retiring, and they have generally voted with the NRA. In some cases, when members retire, they may be more flexible about how they vote, as they no longer have political reasons to vote with the NRA.

At the moment, there are two bills we will be focusing on. If other opportunities arise, we will consider them as well. These two bills are:

SB1007: This bill would ban the delivery, sale, purchase, or possession of ammunition clips that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition (i.e., high-capacity magazines). Here is an example of a bill that has gradually made it through the process. SB1007 has already made it out of the Senate and a House Committee. It is only one step away from going to the governor.

HB0758: This bill focuses on universal background checks on all handguns sold in Illinois. HB0758 was voted on this year and came up a little bit short, but people continue to talk about it and work for its passage. The bill got 58 votes in the House and was just two votes short. We feel that there?fs a definite possibility it could get two more votes.

Let’s keep in mind as well that it is possible for other key pieces of legislation to emerge in 2008. In particular, we should not discount the possibility that a vote on assault weapons legislation could be held during the year.

Weigh in with your opinion!
We urge you to weigh in with your opinion during the upcoming session of the Illinois General Assembly. We know from experience that sharing our convictions with legislators makes a big difference over the long haul. This time, we also expect to find swing votes in the Chicago suburbs. If you are from that part of the state, make sure you are weighing in with legislators on our issues!

Federal Level

Tiahrt Amendment
We will, as usual, be hearing about gun issues related to major news stories, federal bills or court cases. There are a couple of federal bills we should mention here. The first involves the Tiahrt Amendment, legislation that includes language severely restricting the release of information about guns traced to crime scenes. The bottom line with this bill is that gun control advocates have not been able to repeal this bill. There were slight improvements to the House version this year; the Senate version was more problematic.

Fortunately, the better of the two versions is what passed — House language was used in the final version of the bill. One key element of this bill is that it removed restrictions to accessing federal gun trace data outside of one’s geographic jurisdiction.

It is also worth noting another reason why it is a good thing the Senate version did not pass — that version would have criminalized law enforcement officials who shared gun trace data in violation of the Tiahrt Amendment.

The NICS Improvement Bill (H.R.2460)
The NICS Improvement Bill (H.R. 2460) is the other key bill. This bill concerns how to ensure that records, including, but not excluded to mental health records, of prohibited purchasers go into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in a timely way.

The NICS Improvement Bill has passed through the Senate and the House (the House voted on the bill during the week of December 17th).

Opinions about how effective this bill will be are mixed, but there are a couple of important benefits we should mention.

For example, this bill will provide a financial incentive for states to enter records of prohibited purchasers of firearms into the system. This is especially important because we know — after the tragedy at Virginia Tech and many other tragedies — that many of these records are not currently in the NICS system.

Because of this bill, we are likely to see a big improvement in the number of records the system maintains of people with mental health issues, and we might see some improvement in other areas as well.

The bill will also provide the possibility for veterans who were disqualified from getting firearms for mental health reasons to petition state and federal authorities to get their gun rights back. The bill is likely to affect 90,000 veterans.

At this time, we need to remember that these federal bills deserve our attention, but our best opportunity to make an impact is on the state level, not the federal level.

Finally, just a word about how gun issues are often covered in the news — and what impact that has on the process. When we research what happens in the aftermath of gun-related tragedies, we can say that, yes, public and media response to these tragedies have had an impact. What has the most significant impact, though, is who is weighing in on gun issues. As we look to 2008, let’s remember that our voices make a difference.

We will keep you updated as developments occur on these and other gun violence prevention issues. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give us a call at 312-341-0939 or 217-744-7383.

Thank you for your support and dedication to reducing gun violence.


October 4, 2007

Update on Federal Legislation

It’s time to revisit and address two key federal bills related to gun control that are receiving considerable attention in Washington, D.C.

The first involves the Tiahrt Amendment, legislation that includes language severely restricting the release of information about guns traced to crime scenes. This information is contained in a firearms trace database by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The second involves a bill to improve the reporting of prohibited purchasers of guns.

Both of these bills are very much up in the air at the moment. What has happened is that both chambers have developed different language for these bills. We don’t know when, or how, they will be resolved.

Tiahrt Amendment

The bad news is that the Tiahrt Amendment will not be repealed this year. Nevertheless, there is certainly positive news in the continuing story of this bill. In Illinois, Republican Rep. Mark Kirk was a leader in the movement to repeal this bill, and one of the few Republicans in Congress to oppose it. In addition, key organizations in Illinois wanted to repeal the bill, including the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police.

In Washington, the National Rifle Association supported the Tiahrt Amendment. The organization claimed that if information related to trace data became available to government agencies or the public, certain law enforcement investigations could be compromised.

Let’s keep in mind – now, and for the future – that there is no evidence to show that any type of investigation conducted by law enforcement agencies that is related to the release of trace data has been compromised.

Ultimately, Tiahrt was not repealed by either chamber. However, the Senate passed a version that was worse than what we already have. Why? Because it would have authorized the criminalization of law enforcement officials who shared information related to trace data.

To that, we ask: Do we really want our law enforcement officials to receive criminal penalties for sharing information related to trace data? Of course not. We want just the opposite – to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to help make our communities safer.

Meanwhile, the House version of this bill did feature one improvement by authorizing the sharing of trace data without geographic restrictions.

The Tiahrt Amendment is part of a Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations bill, which means this issue will have to be resolved this year.

Mental Health Records

Another key piece of federal legislation centers on a bill proposed by Reps. John Dingell (D-Michigan) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY). The bottom line for this bill is that it focuses on how to ensure that records – including, but not excluded to mental health records — of prohibited purchasers go into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in a timely way. The bill would provide resources for states to accomplish this goal – although we don’t know at this point how much might be allocated to states. This bill emerged in response to the tragedy at Virginia Tech last April. Also contained in the bill is a provision that would allow for individuals, including thousands of veterans, to petition states to regain their rights to own a firearm. The NRA has pushed for this aspect of the bill, which passed in the U.S. House in June.

As is the case with the Tiahrt Amendment, there are different versions of this bill that have passed in the Senate and the House. As a result, both chambers will have to agree on language before a version of the bill goes to the president. The Senate, for example, added language to its version – but much of it had to do with general school safety issues, not firearms.

The significance of this bill is that it has been portrayed as the first significant piece of federal gun control legislation since legislation banning assault weapons in 1994.

Note: This bill is not an appropriations bill – it is what is called a “substantive” bill. That means Congress is not obligated to deal with it this year.

Illinois

If this bill sounds familiar to people in Illinois who have been following gun control issues, that’s not a coincidence. This summer, Illinois became the first state to enact any type of legislation of this nature when the General Assembly passed and Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed SB 0940, which would help ensure that when someone is prohibited from having a firearm due to mental health issues, that information would be reported to the state police in a more expedient way.

Court Case

Court to hear an appeal on a case that was voted on in federal district court earlier this year. That ruling concluded that the gun ban in Washington, D.C. is null and void. This case is significant because if the Supreme Court upholds the lower court’s ruling, Chicago and other cities could face pressure to change laws that bar ownership of handguns and assault weapons.

We will keep you updated as developments occur on these and other gun violence prevention issues. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give us a call at 312-341-0939 or 217-744-7383.


August 31, 2007

Governor Blagojevich Signs SB 940 into Law

Earlier today, Governor Blagojevich signed SB 940 into law. This new law will help ensure that information regarding individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms due to mental health issues would be reported to the state police in a more expedient way. The bill will also require Illinois mental health authorities to share information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) about persons who have been barred from buying or owning guns because of mental health issues. Fewer than half of all states — only 22 — currently share such information with the federal NICS system.

Please take a moment to call the Governor’s office today and ask THANK HIM for signing this bill into law and standing up for gun violence prevention. The number to call is: 217-782-0244.


August 31, 2007

Gun Lobby Loses Key Court Case in Cook County

ICHV is pleased to report that the Circuit Court of Cook County recently rejected a legal challenge to the ban on assault weapons in Cook County. The lawsuit, brought by the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) against the Cook County Board of Commissioners, alleged that the ban on assault weapons “exceeded [the Board's] home rule authority” to enact local ordinances that are stricter than state law.

The Cook County Board passed the ordinance to strengthen the existing ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines late last year. The ISRA recently challenged the ordinance, but the Circuit Court essentially upheld the ordinance by dismissing the case.

This is good news for gun violence prevention advocates. For the past several years, the gun lobby has been working hard to chip away at state and local law around the nation that place any type of restrictions on the manufacture, sale, possession and use of firearms, including assault weapons and handguns. They have been using their lobbying dollars and political influence to work state legislatures across the country to repeal home rule laws that allow local governments (cities and counties) to pass ordinances that place additional restrictions on firearms. This recent ruling by the Circuit Court of Cook County shows that the gun lobby’s strategy is faulty and that there can be reasonable regulations placed on the right to bear arms.

This is a big victory, and we can celebrate that the communities of Cook County will not be havens for assault weapons manufacturers and dealers. This ruling also sends a message that challenges to home rule ordinances can withstand a legal challenge by the gun lobby.


August 2007

Update on Federal Legislation: The Tiahrt Amendment

For the past four years in Congress, legislation making appropriations to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has contained language severely restricting the release of information about guns traced to crime scenes contained in the agency’s Firearms Tracing Systems database. This restriction is known as the “Tiahrt Amendment” (named after Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kansas).

The problem with this restriction on crime-gun information is basic: Law enforcement officials, among others, absolutely need this kind of data to do their jobs. The House version of this bill is bad, but the Senate version (from the Senate Appropriations Committee) is even worse when it comes to protecting law enforcement access to crime-gun tracing information.

Despite strong efforts by law enforcement and gun violence prevention groups, an effort to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment was denied this month by the U.S. House of Representatives. However, the two chambers will come together and agree on a version later this year, though that will not happen until the fall.

There is positive news here, however. In terms of reaching Illinois members, our efforts have been successful. Two members of the Illinois delegation who serve on the committee voted for the repeal – Rep. Mark Kirk (R-10th District) and Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-2nd District). In fact, Rep. Kirk was one of only two Republicans who voted against his party on this amendment. People in Illinois should thank these legislators for their support of the repeal.

In the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin also voted to repeal Tiahrt. The majority of the Illinois House delegation, in fact, as well as both Illinois senators, are on our side. Your calls and efforts in trying to influence members of the Illinois delegation have made a difference.

What This Means for Gun Violence Prevention

Overall, the news about the Tiahrt Amendment tells us that, while we have seen a change in power from Republican to Democratic in Congress, the NRA continues to have significant control over both the Congressional agenda and votes. One reason for this is that only about half of all states have state groups working on gun violence issues, and many of these groups are small and have limited resources and staff to work on the multiple issues that they are facing at any one time. In other words, in half of the country the NRA doesn’t get any opposition at all; there is no comprehensive grassroots network to challenge or counter what they say and do in many states, and that is one reason why it is difficult to have an impact at the federal level.

The situation with the Tiahrt Amendment also tells us that there are many members of Congress in both chambers who don’t seem to care about the fact that law enforcement agencies around the country, who are on the front lines in fighting gun violence, strongly oppose the Tiahrt amendment and have been working to repeal it.

Even though the Tiahrt amendment was defeated by this House committee, our efforts have led to a collection of allies working together to oppose the Tiahrt amendment on a national level. A number of key legislators, many law enforcement agencies, and more than 200 mayors around the country, led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have joined forces to oppose this amendment.

We know from our experience in Illinois that mobilizing on such issues makes a difference. Illinois is one of the only states where the NRA is continuously on the defensive as we push a progressive agenda on gun violence. As we have seen in the Illinois legislature, both this year and in previous years, we are always within a handful of votes from passing key bills.

Other News: Developments at the State Level

Meanwhile in Illinois, an important gun violence bill has gone to the governor and awaits his signature. SB 0940 would help ensure that when someone is prohibited from having a firearm due to mental health issues, that information would be reported to the state police in a more expedient way. The bill would also require Illinois mental health authorities to share information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System about individuals who have been barred from buying or owning guns because of mental health issues. Fewer than half of all states – only 22 – currently share such information with the federal NICS system.

We urge people to call the governor and voice support for this bill. Just call 217-782-0244.

We will keep you updated as developments occur on these and other gun violence prevention issues. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give us a call at 312-341-0939 or 217-744-7383.


May 14, 2007

Action resumes in Springfield

As you likely have already heard, a tragic shooting took place late last week where a young and promising high school student was shot and killed on a CTA bus. This young student was a relative of ICHV Honorary Board member Michael Robbins, a former Chicago police officer and a victim of gun violence himself. This tragedy shows us not only how important it is for ICHV to continue our important work, but also the value of implementing legislation to make firearms less lethal and accessible to society. In Springfield, some of our legislators have been supporting several bills that would help decrease injury and death caused by firearms in a variety of ways and to help protect our most innocent members of society. Some of the most relevant proposals and updates on activity are included below.

Good news in Senate

Last week, a key bill passed out of the Senate, SB1007, which would prohibit the sale and possession of large capacity ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The bill now moves to the House, and could be heard in committee this week or next week.

One reason this news is especially important is that there was bipartisan support for this bill in the Senate. Another reason why the passage of SB1007, in the Senate is encouraging is simple: this bill would make firearms less deadly by limiting the number of bullets in each magazine to 10 or fewer, thereby reducing the likelihood of exacerbated injury and death.

This bill is especially timely because some of the deadliest shootings in this country, including the tragedy at Virginia Tech, have been committed with weapons that were equipped with high capacity magazines.

We should also emphasize a key point about firearms in relation to this bill. There is a misconception among some people that handguns would not be affected by this bill. That is completely false. As we have seen in numerous recent tragedies, handguns can often hold magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and such firearms would be subjected to the requirements of this bill when it passes.

Simply put, regardless of what kind of weapon is used-whether military-style assault weapons or handguns-more people are killed or wounded because these large capacity magazines are available.

One final note about SB1007, and similar attempts to reduce access to high capacity ammunition magazines: in the past, some members of the gun industry have claimed that this kind of bill would hurt their business or even force them to leave the state.

Let’s face it. Regardless of any law such as this passing in any state, the gun industry has continued to survive, if not thrive. We can safely describe concerns that this bill will hurt the gun industry as nonsense.

Update on House Activity

In the House last week, we thought there might be action on two key bills, but neither was called for a vote because the House spent all of Wednesday and most of Thursday hearing testimony on the gross receipts tax issue.

The two bills we are referring to are:

HB0758, which would require criminal background checks on all handgun sales and

HB1696, which would require reporting of lost and stolen guns.

We believe that one or both of these bills will be voted on in the near future and could possibly be voted on this week. Please contact your legislator to voice your support for these bills. For information about how to reach your legislator, go to www.ilga.org and click on “House” and “Members.”

Let’s keep in mind that this is a two-year General Assembly. While we do not know with certainty when these bills would be voted on, the first important step in the process is for them to be voted out of the House.

Gun lobby bill still short of votes

HB1304, a bill that would allow the carrying of concealed, loaded handguns in public places, is still short of the number of votes it needs to pass out of the House.

The deadline for voting on this bill continues to be extended. We strongly encourage you to weigh in on this legislation. Call your legislator and remind him or her that you oppose allowing individuals to carry loaded, hidden handguns in public.

We will keep you updated as developments occur on these issues. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call our office at 312-341-0939 or 217-744-7383.


April 9, 2007

Recess for Legislators

The General Assembly went on recess on March 30th. The Senate will return on April 18th; the House will return on April 17. Once the General Assembly returns, the attention for the immediate future will turn to the House until about April 27th – the date of the third reading deadline in the House.

Deadline Extended for Key Bills in Senate

Prior to the recess, a lot of work was done by ICHV in support of the assault weapons bill (SB016) and .50 caliber sniper rifle bill (SB1471) in the Senate. Due to various reasons, a few key supporters were not able to make it to Springfield for a vote, including Senate President Emil Jones and other legislators who were absent.

Since we know that the difference between a bill passing and failing can be one vote, it is too much of a risk to call a vote on a bill when you don’t have all your supporters there. So, sponsors of these two pieces of legislation made a decision to postpone votes on these bills, and the deadline for voting on them has been extended. Since the deadline for these bills to be considered is now May 31, we fully expect to have our say on these important measures before the end of this legislative session.

It is worth noting, by the way, that these two measures were hardly the only measures for which a deadline was extended. Hundreds of bills had their deadlines extended, simply because there was not enough time to take up all of these bills before March 30th.

House of Representatives

In the House, there are a number of bills to watch. We have talked about these bills in previous Legislative Updates. Here’s a quick recap:

  • HB0731 -Storage of Firearms. Bill would raise age of minors who have access to stored firearms from 14 to 18.
  • HB0758 – Requires that all handgun sales would be subject to criminal background checks.
  • HB0796 – Requires that all handgun dealers in the state of Illinois be licensed at the state level.
  • HB0873 – Prohibits the possession and sale of assault weapons.
  • HB1696 – Requires that a lost or stolen gun be reported to local law enforcement.
  • HB1078 – Prohibits sales of handguns to one handgun in a 30-day period.

All of these measures are alive in the House of Representatives and will likely be heard between April 17 and April 27.

Many Bills Dealing with Gun Violence Issues

Without a doubt, many people are familiar with efforts to pass bills that prohibit military-style assault weapons in Illinois. It is important to emphasize that other bills – including the other five House bills listed above – are just as important when it comes to attacking the problem of gun violence.

Legislation to prohibit assault weapons can be challenging to pass for a few reasons. Proposals to ban certain classes of weapons target the heart of the gun industry. When that happens, the gun lobby often responds by saying that one proposed ban will only lead to another, and that any type of weapons ban criminalizes legal firearm ownership. That claim is not true, but they use it to build their case.

Now, consider the other end of the spectrum, for example, a bill to require criminal background checks on all handguns sales in Illinois. In regards to this legislation, it is more difficult for the gun lobby to oppose it when they also say that they want to keep criminals from getting easy access to guns.

The point is some bills are harder for the gun lobby to argue against than others, but many of these pieces of legislation can have an immediate impact on reducing gun violence, regardless of whether they get as much publicity as other measures. Several of these proposed bills can help reduce gun violence by, for example, ensuring that prohibited gun purchasers do not get easy access to handguns, by bringing more pressure on problem dealers who supply a higher number of guns traced to crimes, and by helping law enforcement authorities do their job when it comes to tracing guns and dealing with gun crime investigations.

Research Shows Public Support for Changes in Gun Laws

Important measures supported by ICHV are supported by the public, according to a statewide survey conducted by the Legal Community Against Violence (and cited by the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence) in February of this year. People polled for the research were registered voters in Illinois.

Key findings showed that:

  • 86% of those polled would strongly favor requiring gun owners to inform law enforcement if any of their guns are lost or stolen
  • 85% would strongly favor requiring a state license for handgun dealers
  • 82% would strongly favor requiring gun owners to lock their guns if there are children under the age of 18 in the household.

Meanwhile, 69% of those polled said they would strongly favor banning the sale and possession of semi-automatic assault weapons as well as the sale and possession of powerful, military-grade 50-caliber sniper rifles.

Clearly, there is major support for strong measures that would help us prevent gun violence.

We will keep you updated as developments occur on these issues. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give us a call at 312-341-0939.


Bills supported by ICHV

One new bill that has come up for support in the House is HB1696. The bill says that if a person fails to report the loss or theft of a firearm, he could lose his FOID (Firearm Owners ID) Card and be charged with a petty offense. When information about the loss or theft of a firearm is properly reported to a law enforcement agency, that can greatly aid an investigation. This bill passed out of committee on Wednesday, March 7 and is now on the House floor.

Two other House measures that we support also moved out of committee this week:

HB3633 – This bill would require that a FOID Card be revoked when individuals are served an order of protection.

HB0796 – Handgun Dealer Licensing Act. Handgun dealers would be licensed by the Department of State Police. A Senate version of the bill, SB1399, is still in committee.

Now that these bills are on the House floor, you can make your feelings know to your representative about why they should support these bills. If you don’t know who your legislator is, go to http://www.ilga.gov/ (the home page for the Illinois General Assembly), and then go to “Legislative Lookup,” on the bottom right corner of the page.

Meanwhile, all other bills supported by ICHV have been assigned to committees in the state legislature, and we expect them to be heard in the next couple of weeks.

We are cautiously optimistic that we will see these bills move out of committee. They include:

HB0731 – Storage of Firearms. Bill would raise age at which minors can have access to stored firearms from 14 to 18.

HB0758 – Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. Requires universal background checks on all handgun sales.

HB0873 – Assault Weapons. Bill details broad measures prohibiting possession, sale, manufacture, delivery or purchase of assault weapons. A Senate bill on this issue (SB016) is also being considered (See “Senate bills,” below, for more).

HB1078 – Bill would prohibit multiple sales of handguns within a 30-day period. In the Senate, SB102, a version of the same bill, is also being considered. Both the House and Senate bills are currently in committee.

Senate Bills: Assault Weapons Ban Bill Moves to Senate Floor

We had some very good news come out of a Senate committee this week.

SB016– the Senate version of the assault weapons ban, was passed out of committee and now moves to the Senate floor.

Other news in the Senate:

SB1471 – Prohibits sale, manufacture, purchase, possession, or carrying of 50 caliber sniper rifles. This bill is still in committee.

Pro-Gun lobby bills

Conceal and Carry
We would like to call attention to a pair of “conceal carry” bills sponsored by the gun lobby – HB1304 and HB1320.

Illinois is one of only two states in the country that does not allow the carrying of concealed weapons. We want to get the word out about these bills to raise awareness of the kind of legislation the gun lobby is eager to pass.

HB1304 – This bill establishes statewide, uniform standards for the issuance of permits to carry concealed firearms in this State. In essence, more citizens would be able to carry concealed guns.

HB1320 – This “conceal carry” bill would authorize the county sheriff to issue concealed firearms permits to Judges, State’s Attorneys, Assistant State’s Attorneys, Public Defenders, and Assistant Public Defenders.

Why oppose these conceal and carry bills? The problem we have with these bills is very basic: the more concealed guns there are in society, the greater the chance will be that they lead to gun death or injury.

We should add that at certain points, the gun lobby may try to create the impression that there has been a groundswell among judges and state’s attorneys and other citizens to carry concealed weapons. In reality, there is a very small number of people who support this legislation.

Preemption

HB0704 – This bill would invalidate local ordinances and resolutions that regulate firearms legal for hunting under the Wildlife Code.

This bill is on third reading in the Illinois House. An identical Senate bill, SB0458, has also been introduced.

HB1757 – Transportation of weapons. This bill would invalidate any local ordinance that regulates the transportation of weapons. A Senate version of the bill, SB0721, has also been introduced.

Note: Preemption bills need a three-fifths majority to pass.

Why oppose?
A preemption bill like this one would prevent municipalities from regulating weapons – including assault weapons. Even if this bill does not pass, it serves as an example of the type of legislation the gun lobby will try to pass.

Changes to Firearm Owners Identification Card Act

HB1606 – This bill would amend the law to say that a person 18 years of age or older may apply for a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card without the consent of a parent of legal guardian (currently, persons between 18 and 21 must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian to obtain a card).

Why oppose?
People between the ages of 18 and 21 have a higher rate of gun-related accidents. This bill would make guns more easily accessible to this group. In addition, while individuals in Illinois need to be 21 to obtain a handgun, they only need to be 18 to have access to an assault weapon. Do we really want to make assault weapons available to these individuals?

Click here for a list of additional bills up for consideration.

What’s next? The month of March should be a very active one on gun issues in Illinois. We will be in touch again soon.

For more information, give us a call at 312-341-0939. To see a synopsis of any bill, go to ilga.org and click on “Bills & Resolutions” (under Legislation & Laws, at the top of the page).

Plus: For more information on how to contact members of the General Assembly, you can also go to http://www.ilga.gov/ and click on “House” or “Senate” members.

We will keep you updated as developments occur on these issues. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give us a call at 312-341-0939.


Can you make a difference?

The short answer to that question is a resounding “Yes.” We say that not only because we need your support – but because of what is happening with key bills in Springfield. In most cases, key pieces of gun legislation are only a handful of votes short of passing in the Illinois House and Senate at this time. Our challenge is to find these votes. Many “swing” votes in the House and Senate will be legislators who serve Cook County and various collar counties.

More Bills that can have an impact

Here is a short list of some additional bills being considered that can 1) make it harder for people to get access to handguns and 2) make it easier to put bad apple gun dealers out of business.

House bills to keep in mind:

HB0731 – Storage of Firearms. Bill would raise age of minors who have access to stored firearms from 14 to 18.

HB0758 – Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. Requires universal background checks on all handgun sales.

HB0796 – Handgun Dealer Licensing Act. Handgun dealers would be licensed by the Department of State Police.

HB0873 – Assault Weapons. Bill details broad measures prohibiting possession, sale, manufacture, delivery or purchase of assault weapons.

HB1078 – Bill would prohibit multiple sales of handguns within a 30-day period.

Senate bills:

SB1471 – Prohibits sale, manufacture, purchase, possession, or carrying of 50 caliber sniper rifles.

Bills promoted by the NRA/gun lobby:

HB0228 – Shortens period of time gun owner must keep record of gun transfer. This bill reflects a pattern of the gun lobby to support legislation that would destroy gun records.

HB0704 – Firearms preemption. This is the gun lobby’s way of preempting an assault weapons ban.

HB1304 – Carrying concealed firearms. This bill would allow the carrying of concealed, loaded handguns in public places.

Who should you contact?

To find out how to contact members of the General Assembly, go to House or Senate at http://www.ilga.gov/ and click on “Members.” Calls, faxes and letters to our legislators make a difference. When you contact them, you can also ask for their email address.

What happens in Illinois is key!

Why pay attention to what is happening in Springfield these days on handgun issues? There are many reasons – but one reason is certainly that states, including Illinois, are in a better position that our federal government to address handgun violence. Based on how Congress has debated – or failed to debate – issues related to handgun violence in recent years, we are confident that states like Illinois are more likely to make a difference. If we want to make positive changes to gun laws, we need to make those changes on a statewide level.

Resources for contacting your elected officials and researching public policy information

Illinois General Assembly
This is the official website for the Illinois General Assembly. Through it, you can access your elected officials in the Illinois House or Senate, find information on current or past legislation, and get information about votes on specific bills.

U.S. Senate
This is the official website for the United States Senate. Here, you can access your Senators’ websites, find voting records on specific bills, and track legislation.

U.S. House of Representatives
This is the official website for the United States House of Representatives. Here, you can access your Congressman’s website, find voting records on specific bills, and track legislation.

Thomas Website– U.S. Congress on the net
This is the official Library of Congress website for the U.S. Congress. It contains links to a plethora of information, including legislation, House and Senate schedules, voting records, basic information on the legislative process, and other information.