The time has come to crack down on easy access to weapons of war in Illinois.
When the Illinois Senate returns on Sunday and Tuesday, its members must pass legislation to protect the people of Illinois by taking action on the powerful firearms that take terrible targets at our loved ones, our communities and ourselves. One does not need weapons of war to hunt deer.
Early Friday, the state House of Representatives passed a measure — the Protect Illinois Communities Act — that, among other provisions, would ban the sale of assault weapons and ammunition magazines containing more than 12 rounds.
The House version would also ban devices called “switches” that essentially turn firearms into machine guns. Generally, legal guns require the trigger to be pulled for each shot. The switches turn them into fully automatic weapons that keep firing as long as the trigger is held down. Actual machine guns are so heavily regulated by federal law that legal versions do not appear on the streets.
As is often the case in Springfield, the House and Senate need to come to a last-second agreement to pass the bill before the legislative session ends. The new legislature is starting on January 11. On Friday, negotiators said they were working on a final bill.
As the bill stood Friday, owners of assault weapons would be allowed to keep them as long as they register them with state police within 300 days of the law taking effect, a requirement we support. . But the sale, distribution or purchase of those weapons will no longer be legal. Owners of high-capacity magazines that hold more than 12 rounds must replace, dispose of, or sell them within 90 days.
Whatever version emerges from negotiations between the House and Senate must be carefully crafted, a tall order at the last minute. For example, defining which weapons are classified as assault weapons and avoiding loopholes is a challenge. But the most important thing is to pass a bill. Lawmakers could debate the details forever. there were only six days already in the new year 13 mass shootings across the country including one in Chicago on New Year’s Day.
In Washington, with its Republican House majority despite the backing of President Joe Biden, legislation to crack down on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is unlikely to get through Congress. So far eight states and the District of Columbia Any kind of ban on assault weapons has been imposed. Illinois should join them. Gov. JB Pritzker has said he is prepared to sign a bill.
Illinois’ most vivid recent display of the terror that military-style weapons could inflict occurred at Highland Park’s 4th of July parade, when seven people were killed and several others were injured. But rapid-fire firearms with high-capacity magazines often wreak havoc on the streets of Chicago and elsewhere in the state, killing or injuring many.
Waiting until the next session to take action on gun violence will not be acceptable. As time goes on, more people will die needlessly, and other important issues may distract the Legislature.
Do we need to unnecessarily risk the next Highland Park? Next East Garfield Park, where 14 people, including three children, were gunned down within seconds at a remembrance vigil last October? Next Uvalde, Texas; Sandy Hook, Connecticut; Or Buffalo, New York? Next Orlando, Florida; Sutherland Springs, Texas; Or El Paso, Texas? Next Las Vegas, Nevada or Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida?
States can’t look to gun makers to help stop the carnage. Manufacturers market their high-powered products in a way that may appeal to people who have no idea about public safety.
Even if all assault weapons could be taken off the street, other guns would still be used to commit crimes and kill people. But a ban on assault weapons is only one piece of the solution.
Illinoisans need a safe state—and it deserves it. Now complete the work.
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