4/12/2007 2:09:00 PM Guest Column Legislators have plenty of gun bills to consider
By Rep. ROGER EDDY For the Daily News
Last week, I mentioned that a bunch of gun-related bills are awaiting consideration. Since I have not focused much on gun-related bills in any of my columns and there was no legislative action last week, I will review gun legislation this week.
As far as legislation that was introduced in the House, the following bills are getting the most opposition: HB 731, HB 758, HB 873, HB 796, HB 1078 and HB 1696. There are also three bills I am receiving positive feedback on: HB 1304, HB 1757, and HB 704. Remember, you can track the status of any of these bills and even read the exact language at www.ilga.gov.
HB 731 changes current laws in several ways. Current law allows a person to store a firearm "in some location that a reasonable person would believe to be secure." The new measure would require all firearms to be locked up. Thus, a person's means of self-defense would be required to be locked up by law. Current law would allow for criminal charges to be brought against a person if a person leaves a firearm unsecured and a minor obtains a firearm and causes injury or death. HB 731 removes the requirement that an injury occur, and makes it a criminal offense by a gun owner if a person under 18 (now age 14) merely touches their firearm.
HB 758 has to do with gun registration. Under the measure, any transfer or loan of a handgun would require that a private citizen call the State Police to run a background check. Failure to call the State Police, keep a record of the loan and record the transaction could result in criminal penalties. The bill also allows the State Police to charge a fee on the sale of private firearms in order to fund this new background check system for private sales.
Remember, at this time, all firearms owners must have a FOID card in order to own, buy or possess a firearm. The State Police check FOID cards daily against new convictions and other factors that would disqualify an individual from owning a gun and revoke the FOID card. This bill appears simply to create additional red tape, increase waiting periods and discourage the private, legal sale of firearms.
HB 873 probably gets the most attention. This one is known as the "assault weapons ban" and there is a similar bill in the Senate. The law is written so that if a home-defense shotgun has a pistol grip, that gun would qualify as an "assault weapon" and the owner would be committing a crime. This bill would also ban many guns routinely used in competitive rifle shooting events. Most rifle competitions are service-rifle matches. These events draw people from all across the state and nation who compete using many of the rifles banned under this act. Only those competitions in the new Sparta world gun shooting complex would be exempt under the law.
Several gun manufacturers in Illinois provide firearms for sport, self-defense, hunting and the military. Illinois is also home to the Olin (Winchester) ammunition plant. HB 873 would be a blow to an already struggling economy and could send 1,250 Illinois manufacturing jobs elsewhere.
HB 1078 is a measure that would essentially limit law-abiding citizens to the purchase of one handgun per month. In Illinois the current waiting period for a handgun purchase is 72 hours. Under this measure, anyone wanting to purchase more than one gun, or who receives a gun as part of an inheritance, would have to go through the State Police for an undetermined amount of time in order for the purchase to take place. The State Police often cannot meet the 30-day statutory requirement for processing a FOID card request, and it could take even longer with this process.
Another measure (HB 1696) would revoke a FOID card for failure to report a lost or stolen firearm within 72 hours to local law enforcement officials. HB 796 would require all federal firearm licensed dealers who sell handguns to get an additional license.
I can assure you that I will not vote for any bill that would in any way restrict any of the Second Amendment Rights that we are guaranteed. It would be great if we would concentrate more on enforcing the laws that we have rather than passing additional laws that criminals ignore anyway. We need crime control, not gun control.
I do fully support a couple of bills related to gun legislation. HB 1304 is known as the "Conceal and Carry" bill. This legislation would establish a statewide system to allow qualified residents to apply for a permit to carry a gun. HB 1757 would preempt any local laws restricting the transport of guns and therefore allow for uniform transport of guns by law-abiding citizens throughout Illinois. I also support HB 704, which would preempt any local ordinances for owning or possessing firearms used for hunting under the wildlife code.
I hope that rundown helps the many people in our district who are concerned about gun legislation understand what is happening in Springfield. Next week, I will try to give you an update regarding the governor's statewide tour to promote the gross-receipts Tax and also look ahead to what we will be facing when we return to Springfield April 17th including any news on the electric rate issue.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org; write to me at Box 125, Hutsonville, IL 62433; r call us at 618-563-4128. You can also keep up with important issues at my Web site (now with audio clips), www.peopleforeddy.com.
Rep. Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville) represents the 109th District in the Illinois House of Representatives.