Alton, IL

Lawmakers Debate Gun Laws

Story by WBGZ Radio

Gov. Bruce Rauner seems to be leaning against the one new, proposed gun law that Illinois lawmakers sent him.

The rest are bottled up in the Senate as lawmakers try and find a future for gun control in the state. The Illinois House and Senate stamped their approval on a half dozen or so gun control plans at the beginning of the month. But they fully approved just one, a new plan to create state licenses for smaller gun dealers in Illinois. 

Last week, Gov. Rauner said he's not sure about that plan. 

"The federal government already regulates these gun dealers," the governor said Friday. "We’ve gotta be careful about putting too many redundant regulations that won’t really change or improve anything, but it may actually hurt small businesses in the state of Illinois."

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Rauner said his team is still evaluating the proposal. 

The rest of the proposed gun laws went to a Senate subcommittee last Friday, meaning they're an extra step away from seeing a final vote. 

And if they do get to a final vote, there are still questions about constitutionality, particularly with a plan to set a 21-year-age limit for buying an assault-style rifle. 

"You could be a 20-year-old veteran from Kandahar who has bought one of these rifles. And the state of Illinois is going to tell you you have to surrender that," Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for a group of federally licensed firearms dealers in the state told lawmakers. "The state of Illinois is going to require that you surrender your property. I think you have some Fifth Amendment issues with that."

Vandermyde said there are some areas where gun dealers and gun enthusiasts are willing to work with lawmakers. He points to a proposed ban on bump stocks. 

But state Sen Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, angrily said bump stocks are a one-off issue, and that he'd rather stop the flow of guns into his neighborhoods. 

"It's not white suburbanites who are walking into my district and shooting black kids on the west side [of Chicago]. But who the hell is selling them the guns?" Harmon said. 

Vandermyde said that 60 percent of guns that are used in shootings in and around Chicago come from outside the state of Illinois. 

"Do you think there are white suburban gun dealers involved in this?" Harmon again asked out loud. "I am tired of this. The carnage has to stop."

In addition to the 21-year-old age restriction to buy a rifle, the Senate subcommittee listened to arguments for but did not vote on a plan to ban gun magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, a plan to ban body armor, the proposed ban on bump stocks, and a new requirement that people wait three days to pick up a rifle that they've already purchased. 


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