Whitney Pitcher: Illinois Legislation Attempts to Ram Strict Gun Laws During Lame Duck Session, Update: Victory for Illinois Conservatives

Guest Post by Whitney Pitcher
In writing his "Commonplace Book", Thomas Jefferson quoted the Italian philosopher and legal scholar Cesare Beecaria’s book Of Crime and Punishments:

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one."

Beccaria very well could have been describing present day Illinois where gun control often means the law abiding are punished for the actions of those who will continue to break gun laws no matter how numerous or restrictive. Despite having some of the most onerous gun laws in the country and currently being the only state in the union without some form of conceal and carry laws, Illinois’ largest city of Chicago had more than 500 homicides in 2012. Gun control is not evil control.

In mid December the US Court of Appeals declared Illinois’ ban on concealed carry unconstitutional and gave the state 180 days to craft " a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment as interpreted in this opinion, on the carrying of guns in public". For anti-gun proponents of Illinois, this judicially imposed deadline,the Chicago violence, the ineffably saddening shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and a lame duck legislative session have provided the impetus to simultaneously meet the court’s demands while also restricting guns in new ways.

With the lame duck session ending on January 9th, the Illinois legislature is trying to ram through two pieces of legislation that would heavily restrict guns. The NRA’s Institute of Legislative Action notes several aspects of these bills that are particularly draconian:

Among other things, House Bill 815 would:

– Prohibit anyone without a FOID card from using a commercial shooting range, which in many cases would make it impossible to introduce new shooters to the safe and responsible use of firearms.

– Grant the State Police broad discretion to impose design, construction and operation standards that could shut down most commercial shooting ranges.

– Ban possession of magazines and other feeding devices that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. A "grandfather clause" would require registration by owners of such devices and give the State Police discretion to impose and charge fees. Registration would require "proof of ownership" that could be impossible for most people to provide, and even registered owners could not transfer magazines within Illinois, except to an heir or a licensed dealer. Transfers of "grandfathered magazines" would have to be reported to the ISP.

– Violations of this magazine ban would be a felony. Failure to report theft or loss of a magazine would be a misdemeanor until the third violation, which would be a felony.

House Bill 1263 would:

– Ban, at a minimum, all detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles and pistols. Remington 7400 deer rifles, Ruger 10/22 squirrel guns, Glocks, 1911s, etc. This ban would include about 80% of handguns now sold in the U.S.

– Possibly ban all semi-automatic rifles and even revolvers or single-shot pistols with the capacity to accept muzzle brakes or compensators.

– Ban "assault weapon attachments," so possession of a thumbhole stock, a pistol grip,or a fore-end (a "shroud" that "partially or completely encircles the barrel") would be a crime even if you didn’t possess a firearm.

– Ban all .50 BMG rifles.

– Contains "grandfather" provisions that would require registration by owners of devices and give the State Police discretion to impose and charge fees. Registration would require "proof of ownership."

– Create felony penalties for violation of this ban on guns or attachments.

– Create lost and stolen penalties that would criminalize victims of gun theft

These bills moved out of the Senate’s public health committee on Wednesday, but have not been voted on in the Senate at this point. However, the Illinois House will discuss an additional gun control bill (SB 2899) and additional amendments when they reconvene Sunday. These overly restrictive bills do not seem to honor the court’s request for "reasonable" legislation. After all, what’s reasonable about disallowing citizens the opportunity to learn how to use a gun safely at a gun range?

Your voice can make a difference. Use your first amendment rights to re-affirm your support for the second. Please call or email your representatives to voice your support for the second amendment and your opposition for even more government impingement on our liberties. You can find contact information for your representative here. As this legislation is being discussed in Springfield and national legislation is being proposed as well, exercising the right to bear arms in Illinois shouldn’t only refer to Michelle Obama’s right to wear sleeveless dresses!

***Update by Steve***

It was announced today that the 97th General Assembly of Illinois will not take on this legislation.  As the State Journal Register of Springfield reports:

A House judiciary committee on Sunday was scheduled to vote on limiting assault weapons. But Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, the committee’s chair, announced at the start of the meeting the vote was called off.

Although a Senate panel approved the assault weapons ban last week, the Senate adjourned Thursday before calling it for a floor vote.

"…The House feels that if the votes aren’t there to pass something between now and late Tuesday in one of the chambers, then there’s no reason for us to act on that as well,” Nekritz said.

Pro-gun advocates cheered following the announcement. However, Nekritz said the issue could come up again during the spring session when new lawmakers take their seats.

The voters of Illinois who got involved; like Whitney who was on top of the issue before the weekend, made a big difference by calling their local representatives.  While this is a temporary victory, we’ll have to keep our eyes open.

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