A House committee approved two gun-control measures, but both have passed committee in the past and then stalled later in the process, meaning that their fate is uncertain. One bill would limit handgun purchases to one a month, and the other would ban so-called "assault weapons."
Proposals that would ban semi-automatic assault weapons and outlaw the purchase of more than one handgun a month cleared an Illinois House committee today.
But both measures have won committee approval in the past, only to stall later in the legislative process. It isn’t clear how the bills will fare in the current session of the General Assembly.
House Bill 4393, sponsored by Chicago Democratic Rep. Luis Arroyo, would limit handgun purchases to one every 30 days.
"Let’s get most of these handguns off the streets," Arroyo said, citing Chicago’s gun violence.
National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde opposed the legislation, telling members of the House Executive Committee that it amounts to "the rationing of a (constitutionally protected) right."
Also testifying against the idea was Joel Brunsvold, a lobbyist for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. He said a one-gun-a-month law would not have prevented shooting deaths such as those at Northern Illinois University this month and Virginia Tech University last year.
Instead, he said, Illinois should raise its $5 fee for a five-year Firearm Owners Identification card. Brunsvold, former director of the state Department of Natural Resources, said the extra money should go to Illinois State Police so the agency could conduct extensive background checks on people seeking to buy guns.
Rep. Edward Acevedo, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the assault-weapon legislation, said he was "appalled" at Brunsvold’s suggestion that the committee was taking up the gun-control proposals because of the NIU shooting.
"For years, we’ve been trying to pass common-sense gun-law legislation," Acevedo said.
His House Bill 4357 would ban the sale or purchase of semi-automatic assault weapons, assault weapon attachments, .50-caliber rifles or .50-caliber cartridges.
"These military-style weapons have no place on our streets," a supporter of the bill, Nina Vinik, legal director for the Evanston-based Legal Community Against Violence, told the committee.
Vandermyde opposed the bill, saying that existing laws must be enforced better to prevent gun crimes from occurring.
The votes on both bills — 8-5 on the handgun proposal and 8-4 on the assault weapon ban — broke along partisan lines, with Democrats supporting the measures and Republicans opposing them.
Adriana Colindres can be reached at (217) 782-6292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.