State senators have approved three gun-control measures aimed at curbing the possibility of a future mass shooting.
Senators last week passed bills banning bump stocks and trigger cranks to turn guns into semiautomatic weapons; increasing the waiting period after the purchase of an assault weapon from 24 to 72 hours; and restricting individuals under the age of 21, not meeting listed exemptions, from possessing assault weapons.
“As a former police officer, I have seen firsthand the damage these weapons can do in the wrong hands. It’s horrifying,” Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) said in urging support of his bill to raise the age for possessing assault weapons in the state. “We have to do better to prevent this violence, and this is a step in the right direction.”
Munoz amended the original state House proposal and excluded military personnel and competitive shooting teams, and created “affirmative defense,” covering anyone under 21 already owning such a weapon or having a valid Firearm Owners Identification card.
Increasing the ownership age for assault weapons drew the most debate on the Senate floor March 14 and was the closest of the three votes. Senators passed the measure in a 32-22 vote.
Republicans voting for the age increase were John Curran of Downers Grove and Chris Nybo of Elmhurst.
Democrats voting against the measure were Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant of Shorewood, Tom Cullerton of Villa Park, William Haine of Alton, and Andy Manar of Bunker Hill.
Voting “present” were Steven Landek (D-Bridgeview) and Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove).
Absent from the vote were Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) and Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods).
Some Republican senators said the affirmative defense would not stop an overzealous police officer or state’s attorney from charging an 18- to 20-year-old living alone with unlawful use of weapon for defending himself against an intruder in his home.
“Who in their right mind as a cop would want to go after a young man or lady that has an FOID card and charge them with a felony?” Munoz, a former police officer, said. “And even if they did bring them to the state’s attorney, the state’s attorneys are the ones who make the charge.”
Oberweis said the legislation does little to address the root causes of gun violence, but instead threatens Second Amendment rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution to lawful gun owners.
He said much more could be accomplished if partisanship was removed from the legislative process.
“For some time now, I have been very concerned about the direction Illinois is headed. What we need is a legislature that sets aside partisanship and works together,” Oberweis said. “We need our lawmakers to say ‘I think this is a good bill for Illinois. I don’t care if it is a Republican bill or a Democrat bill.’ Or we need to say, ‘This is a bad bill for Illinois. I don’t care if this is a Republican bill or a Democrat bill, we have to vote against it.’”
Nybo said banning bump stocks is a pivotal step toward reducing gun violence in the state.
“After the Parkland school shooting, the Las Vegas massacre and the increasing gun violence on the streets of Chicago and around the country, public safety must be a bipartisan issue and a top priority,” said the Elmhurst Republican who was a chief sponsor of the measure. “We must remove this fatal and unnecessary device from the hands of irresponsible and dangerous shooters and protect civilians from senseless violence.
The legislation would ban the sale, manufacturing, purchase and possession of bump stocks, attachments that allow a rifle to fire faster. The legislation was introduced as a response to the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas after bump stocks were found at the scene of the crime, employed by the shooter to target more victims.
The bump-stock ban passed by a vote of 37-16.
Along with Nybo, other Republicans voting for the bump-stock ban were: Sue Rezin of Morris, Oberweis and Curran.
The sole Democrat to vote against the measure was Haine.
Voting “present” were: Pam Althoff (R-McHenry), Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles), Tom Rooney (R-Rolling Meadows) and Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford)
Absent from the vote were Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) and McConchie.
State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) sponsored the legislation to increase the waiting period to purchase an assault weapon in Illinois from 24 to 72 hours.
“Increasing the waiting period to obtain an assault weapon ensures sufficient time to complete a background check and increases the ‘cooling off’ period for those who may cause harm to others,” Morrison said. “Requiring a 72-hour waiting period is a commonsense reform that will help keep our neighborhoods safe.”
Current Illinois law requires a 72-hour waiting period to obtain a handgun after purchase. Assault weapons, including the AR-15 and other military-style weapons, are only subject to a 24-hour waiting period.
The Senate approved the measure in a 43-15 vote.
Republicans voting in favor of increasing the waiting period were: Michael Connelly of Naperville, Althoff, Curran, McConnaughay, Nybo and Rooney.
No Democrats voted against the measure.
McConchie was absent from the vote.
—- Illinois Senate moves gun-control measures forward —