House Committee Approves Gun Legislation
By Ashley Badgley Illinois Statehouse News
SPRINGFIELD – A House committee on Monday pushed through three pieces of gun legislation, sending them to the full House for consideration.
State Rep. Harry Osterman, D-Chicago, sponsored two of the bills that passed. His first bill – approved on a 7-to-5 vote — amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act by prohibiting individuals who lack the proper license to sell or transfer their firearms to another person. The transaction could only be performed through a licensed dealer.
Osterman said the measure would prevent people with criminal records from owning firearms. However, National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde said the bill would just create more work for lawful gun owners.
“It’s more red tape, more hoops for gun owners to jump through,” Vandermyde said. “If we have to go through all this, then why do we even have a FOID card that says I don’t have a criminal conviction on my record?”
However, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Thomas Mahoney told committee members that Osterman’s legislation will help Illinois residents who legally purchase their firearms.
“I think if this were passed into law and the state police were to develop the system over the next two years, what it would do would facilitate the lawful transfer of firearms through a federal firearm licensee and it would make it easier for lawful firearms owners to make such a transfer,” Mahoney said.
Osterman’s second bill passed on a 6-to-4 vote, and would require gun owners to have a proper, portable gun carrying case in which to transport their gun.
Osterman said this legislation is “commonsense” for gun owners.
“Strip away the politics to this, these are commonsense approaches that if you ask someone who calls your district office about this, I think it’s very difficult for them to say this is taking away gun owner’s rights,” Osterman said.
Chicago Police Sgt. John Hamilton testified that such a simple requirement could mean the difference between life and death. He said he has witnessed the shooting of several fellow officers because someone did not have their gun in a proper container when transporting it.
“For us, it’s a matter of life and death,” Hamilton said. “It’s not a matter of what side of the aisle you’re on, what side you’re arguing. That doesn’t mean anything in the streets. For us, it’s a matter of life and death. I’ve had friends killed in the line of duty.”
State Rep. Ed Sullivan, R-Mundelein, voted against the bill, saying it would cause confusion because the bill would change Illinois Supreme Court guidelines regarding a proper gun case.
He said judges all over the state would each make different rulings.
“We have a ruling from the Supreme Court in regards to this and now we want to change it so we’re going to be right back where we started from trying to find what is designed for the safe transportation of firearms because it’s too vague,” Sullivan said.
State Rep. Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago sponsored the third gun measure passed by the House committee, on a 6-to-4 vote. The bill would prohibit Illinois gun manufacturers from selling firearms to Illinois residents. The manufacturers could sell their firearms to other states, as well as to Illinois police officers, Acevedo said.
A strong gun opponent, Acevedo said his measure would decrease the number of Illinois residents purchasing firearms.
State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said the bill could hurt Illinois businesses and jobs because they are losing their customers and must rely on other states for business.