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Doug Finke

Gun control measures on veto session’s agenda

First would ban rapid-firing guns; second would license dealers

First would ban rapid-firing guns; second would license dealers

At least two gun control measures could be addressed in the upcoming veto session of the General Assembly, as reaction continues from the mass shootings in Las Vegas on Oct. 1.

State Rep. Martin Moylan, D-Des Plaines, has introduced legislation that would ban the sale of assault weapons; large-caliber rifles, such as .50-caliber models; “bump stocks” that allow rapid firing of weapons; and large-capacity magazines, which the bill defines as holding 10 or more rounds of ammunition.

And state Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, said she is working to secure enough votes in the House to pass a bill that would create state licensing of gun dealers in Illinois. The bill, which has already passed the Senate, predates the Las Vegas shootings.

Many of the components in Moylan’s bill have been proposed before and haven’t passed the Legislature. However, he thinks things may be different now, not the least because of reports that the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, had reserved hotel rooms in Chicago overlooking the Lollapalooza music festival this past summer. Paddock never used the rooms.

“I’m passionate about it this time because of the events that happened in Las Vegas,” he said. “Especially since the guy was scoping out a Chicago site, I think this bears a lot of weight on it. I would hope I get a lot of support, both on Republicans and Democrats.”

Moylan has 18 co-sponsors for House Bill 4107, including Rep. Steven Andersson, R-Geneva. Andersson, one of the House Republicans who voted for the budget and tax hike bills, has announced he is not running for re-election.

Gun issues in Illinois have always been more of a regional issue rather than a partisan one, with many downstate lawmakers from both parties generally more in favor of gun rights issues than gun control issues.

“I understand it’s a regional issue, but this is an issue that affects people no matter where they live,” Moylan said.

“People from all over the state go to all kinds of concerts and venues and sporting events. This new type of attack has opened up a whole another concern for the assault-type weapons, that they kill mass amounts of people. That’s why I think it’s different from before.”

Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, did not return a call seeking comment. Todd Vandermyde, who lobbies in Illinois for the National Rifle Association, declined comment.

The bill to have state licensure of gun deals, Senate Bill 1657, passed the Senate in April, although barely. It got the minimum 30 votes it needed to pass.

However, the bill, which has 28 co-sponsors in the House, was never called for a vote there. Willis acknowledged that the bill was short of the votes needed to pass, and she didn’t believe in calling the bill for a vote unless it would pass.

Although some gun control advocates are trying to tie the bill to the Las Vegas shooting, Willis said that isn’t the case.

“This bill is something that has been worked on for 15 years,” she said. “I don’t think that it is definitely tied to the Las Vegas shootings. I think this is a good business practice bill. Certainly I think the tragedy in Las Vegas brings to light that something has to be done. This is something we’ve been working on, and maybe now is the time to get more people to realize something has to be done.”

Willis said 16 states require a state license for gun dealers in addition to a federal license.

“We’ve seen evidence in those 16 states that by having a state license, it significantly reduced the number of crime guns that have been purchased in those states,” she said.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which would be in charge of administering the law, opposes it. The department said the legislation would be costly to administer, and the agency has limited expertise in the field.

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