Tuesday, March 05, 2013

House takes test votes on assault weapons ban

By Jamey Dunn

The Illinois House took several votes on assault weapons bans today but did not approve a bill to send to the Senate.

The votes were held as part of a "Weekly Order of Business" on gun safety. Steven Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, described the process last week, after the House took similar votes on pension reform: “The strategy is to test the gambit of ideas. ... Test every idea that’s out there. You’ve heard people complain over the years about not being able to vote. Well, here’s a chance to vote.”

The House approved four amendments today that call for the ban of the sales of several types of so-called assault weapons, including guns used in recent mass shootings in Connecticut and Arizona. Another amendment that passed would ban the possession or sale of high-capacity magazines, which hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Opponents called the measures extreme, saying that they would severely limit residents’ access to guns. “What we have here today is just a full out attempt to ban every gun in this state,” said Harrisburg Republican Rep. Brandon Phelps. “This bans every rifle in this state.” They accused supporters of playing politics and trying to back them into controversial votes. “At the end of the day this is no about public safety this is all about politics,” said Elmhurst Republican Rep. Dennis Reboletti. “This is nothing but a political exercise to have that gotcha moment.”

But those in favor said that the weapons the amendments would ban are dangerous and should not be available to the general public. “This is not a game. We’re talking about human lives, innocent lives, and this need to be addressed first and foremost. Keep our communities safe,” said Chicago Democratic Rep. Luis Arroyo.

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