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Local lawmakers tapped for gun group

Created: Thursday, January 31, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 1:20 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – For once, the freshmen get the advantage.

This week, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon appointed 15 freshmen lawmakers, including Reps. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, and Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, to her new Firearms Working Group.

Demmer said the group will focus on ending the ban on concealed weapons, a move he has supported. Last month, a federal appeals court ruled that Illinois’ ban on concealed weapons was unconstitutional. The court gave lawmakers 180 days to legalize concealed carry.

“I made no secret in my campaign that I’m a supporter of Second Amendment rights,” said Demmer, one of only two Republicans in the group. “I want to make sure we get heard in discussions around Illinois.”

The group will visit a shooting range in Sparta and gun manufacturers, he said.

Simon told the Chicago Sun-Times that members would “learn to safely operate a firearm at the Sparta World Shooting Complex.”

Smiddy, who represents Whiteside County, said he supports ending the concealed weapons ban. He noted that Henry County, which is part of his district, has three gun manufacturers.

“The companies are directly and indirectly responsible for 800 jobs. I want to make sure the companies stay viable,” Smiddy said. “It’s a concern when there is legislation banning assault weapons.”

The lawmakers will meet with a variety of groups, including the Illinois State Rifle Association and the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, officials said.

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