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Why No Action Yet on Guns?
By Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden plans to make recommendations from his federal task force on curbing gun violence. The conversation starts there in Washington and trickles to us here in Illinois. Recently, though, we've seen gun legislation on the state level come to what looks like a screeching halt.
Things may not be as they appear. State Sen. Dan Kotowski said he had enough support to move legislation he proposed to limit ammunition, but that too many lawmakers left before a vote could be taken. State Rep. Rich Brauer said the issue is really that lawmakers just haven't come up with a plan that makes any sense. They work from the same location, but sit on opposite sides of the political arena at the Capitol. Both men are fathers who have been touched by recent gun violence.
"It's hard to imagine dressing your kids for school one day and then they don't come home that night, so it's a tragedy that this happens, but we need to look at ways to keep it from happening, " Brauer, a Petersburg Republican, said.
"We've reached this point in our country that I guess all we can really hope for is to limit the damage these weapons can cause," Kotowski, a Chicago-area Democrat, said.
Both men are fired up and aiming their energy at ways to protect the people of Illinois. Like their parties, their targets are also opposite.
"What we need to do in our state is to put protections in place so that we can keep our children and families and law enforcement safe from a very unregulated gun industry," Kotowski said.
Lawmakers came to the Capitol this month and left without voting on legislation he introduced to limit ammunition magazines to ten or fewer rounds.
"Well, he's a senator from Chicago, and what's the most violent city in the world today?," Brauer said. "It's Chicago. So obviously the gun laws that we have in place in Chicago probably have a lot of unintended consequences."
In Springfield, for example, all of the fatal shootings for the last five years involved handguns, none of them with an extended magazine.
"What we need to do is concentrate on common sense, and we need to move this thing forward," Brauer said.
He said he'll act on an option that makes sense for the entire state. According to him, a common sense approach is to hire guards, and even educate some school employees on how to use guns.
Senator Kotowski, on the other hand, thinks the gun industry as it stands is a problem. He called it the last unregulated, consumer industry in our country. In fact, teddy bears, he said, have to pass a number of safety tests before being sold, and are therefore more regulated than guns.
Even if they can't reach common ground, we can expect some gun legislation this year. Attorney General Lisa Madigan is challenging the court ruling that struck down the state ban on concealed carry. That alone will not stop the six-month timeline the court gave lawmakers to make concealed carry guidelines.