Illinois congressional delegation urged to get behind anti-gun violence bill

SHARE Illinois congressional delegation urged to get behind anti-gun violence bill
SHARE Illinois congressional delegation urged to get behind anti-gun violence bill

On the eve of the six-month anniversary of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., activists plan to gather at 6 p.m. Thursday at theKluczynski Federal Building,230 S. Dearborn, as part of an effort to broaden support in Illinois’ congressional delegation for gun safety legislation.

Robin Schmidt, state press coordinator for Organizing for Action, said opponents of gun violence are encouraging House members from Illinois to back the bill HR 1565, which would expand background checks for gun purchasers.

“[Gun violence] is a horrible problem in this city,”Schmidt said. “We can get the guns out of the hands of criminals.”

Also at the event will be representatives from theIllinois Council Against Handgun Violence,Common Sense Reform,People for a Safer Society, the Illinois chapter of theMillion Mom March,the IMPACT Family Center andMoms Demand Action, Schmidt said.

Ten of the 12 Democrats in Illinois’ delegation support the bill, but none of the six Republicans do, at least so far, she said. The anti-gun violence forces are encouraging the holdouts to get behind the bill, particularly Republican Peter Roskam. A second rally will be held Friday inRoskam’s districtat 7 p.m. at the Palatine Metra station, 137 W. Wood Street, in Palatine.

“We invited Roskam to the Palatine event and he has not responded,” Schmidt said.

Recently, OFA delivered petitions with 2,500 signatures to the Downstate offices of Republican Aaron Schock’s office, urging him to support the legislation.

OFA wants broaderbackground checks before gun purchases, a crackdown on straw purchasers and limits on clip sizes, Schmidt said.

“We have one major goal, and that is to get a safer America,” Schmidt said.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn has until July 9 to decide whether to sign legislation passed on the last day of the General Assembly’s spring session that will allow the concealed carrying of firearms in Illinois. After July 9, a federal appeals court ruling nullifying Illinois’ concealed carry ban would send the issue back to federal district court.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart wrote a June 12 letter to Quinn saying the law is fatally flawed because law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to check the backgrounds of concealed-carry permit applicants before the permits are issued. Gun safety proponents had urged the Illinois State Police be required to notify other law enforcement agencies when applications are submitted, but that did not make into the final bill.

Dart wrote, “As drafted, the bill would require federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as state’s attorney’s offices and the Office of the Attorney General to monitor a database of applicants for those who reside in their jurisdiction at the time of the application, who resided in their jurisdiction in the past or for those who they may have had any contact with and to assess whether they have a reasonable suspicion the individual is a risk to themselves or the public.

“In Cook County alone, over 358,000 residents have been issued a Firearm Owners Identification (“FOID”) card from the Illinois State Police. Statewide, the number of FOID card holders is over 1.5 million. Under the requirements of section 15, assessments of each and every applicant would be required by law enforcement and prosecutors throughout Illinois.

“…Without a crystal ball, the objection process is unworkable and creates a shockingly false sense of security.

“However, of even greater concern is that the bill lacks any process by which law enforcement could object to a person for whom they have reasonable suspicion is a risk to themselves or a threat to public safety after they are issued a license to carry a concealed handgun.”

Read a June 10 Sun-Times editorial on the concealed carry bill here.

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