Flickers of opposition to a comprehensive assault weapons ban in Illinois began to appear in the second of three planned Illinois House committee hearings in Chicago on Thursday.
Criminal justice and crime experts, family members of gun violence victims and a member of multiple pro-gun groups appeared before the House Judiciary Committee as lawmakers heard testimony for more than four hours about a proposed ban that would also prevent sales of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds and raise the eligibility for a state firearm owner identification card for most Illinois residents to 21.
Democrats hope to pass the bill in the lame duck session next month — and they’re banking on political headwinds to try to get it through.
Concerns brought to lawmakers at the hearing included the cost, the constitutionality of the measure and whether it will prompt more arrests for those under 21 who would have been able to legally acquire a FOID card and gun otherwise.
Illinois House Republican Leader-elect Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, told lawmakers she does not support the measure because she doesn’t believe it will address the “root causes of gun violence.” She also criticized Democrats for not involving Republicans in working group discussions.
“HB 5855 will ultimately leave our neighborhoods, our communities and women across Illinois vulnerable to be unprotected and, unfortunately, victimized,” McCombie said. “We do need to focus on solutions that are going to make our communities safer…but if this passes it’s going to be ineffective and unconstitutional. I’m going to continue to argue against this type of legislation and must stress that we do want to do the right thing. The right thing is for us to be part of that solution.”
McCombie later stood up for Abraham Avalos, a Waukegan resident who was at the Highland Park shooting and who is a member of several pro-gun groups. Avalos testified that he was devastated by the mass shooting but did not believe the legislation would prevent future mass shootings. Avalos was questioned by state Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) about whether Illinois residents would be better off with the proposed legislation.
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