Illinois News

Gun control debated on federal, state levels

Gun Background Checks Nevada
FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2016 file photo, handguns are displayed at a trade show in Las Vegas. With protesters outside the courthouse calling for action, a Nevada judge is due to hear arguments about a voter-approved gun background-check law that has not been enforced since voters passed it in November 2016. The Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, hearing stems from a lawsuit filed in October, just days after a gunman shot into an open-air concert crowd on the Las Vegas Strip, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
John LocherSTF
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 26, 2018 10:30 am

QUINCY -- New gun control proposals are coming out every day at the federal and state level.

President Donald Trump said he supports raising the minimum age for purchasing certain guns and tighter background checks.

"There's nothing more important that protecting our children," Trump said after meeting Wednesday with survivors of the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

On Thursday, Trump said he will be pushing for comprehensive background checks, with an emphasis on mental health. He also wants to raise the age to purchase a gun to 21 and ban bump stocks.

Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley said 21 might be a reasonable minimum age for gun purchasers.

"I know there will be people who say that you can join the service at 18 and be issued a firearm, but that's talking apples and oranges," Copley said.

However, Copley is not certain that a federal change in the age of purchasers will work if it only applies to certain types of firearms, as was proposed by some in Washington who want the change to apply only to military-style rifles.

"That wouldn't be effective. You can kill someone with a .22 caliber firearm just as easily as you can with a .223 or a handgun. If we're going to set an age, I don't know that it makes much sense to let them buy other types of firearms," Copley said.

Trump's focus on gun violence came as leaders of the National Rifle Association offered a vigorous defense of gun rights during the Conservative Political Action Conference, urging enhanced -- and armed -- security at schools. An armed Broward County sheriff's deputy, the regular school resource officer, was on the campus in Parkland, Fla., at the time of the shooting.

"Evil walks among us, and God help us if we don't harden our schools and protect our kids," said NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre. "The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous."

The NRA opposes changing the legal age to buy rifles to 21. Federal rules already require handgun purchasers to be at least 21, but rifles and shotguns may be purchased by buyers at age 18.

Although Trump said on Twitter that "the NRA will back it and so will Congress," he complimented the NRA as "great people and great American patriots."

Illinois lawmakers also are proposing a flurry of gun control bills. State Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, is sponsoring a bill that would require gun dealers to obtain state licenses at a cost of $1,000 for a five-year permit.

"We react, as we should, when there is a horrific mass shooting, but every day in my district and across the Chicagoland area, young people are dying from gun violence," Harmon said. "I would like to do something to try to stop that."

Todd Vandermyde who represents a group of gun dealers called the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois said the state measure would be expensive for small businesses.

"We already have a federal licensing standard and we think it works reasonably well," Vandermyde said.

State Rep. Randy Frese, R-Paloma, has not seen full details on Harmon's bill, but he wonders whether it will accomplish what the sponsor wants.

"One of the things about my district is that if we change the law in Illinois, people can go right across the river into Missouri and Iowa, so it will only hurt Illinois gun dealers," Frese said.

Illinois already has stricter gun control that most states, thanks to the Firearm Owners ID program. Illinois State Police must do background checks on everybody seeking a FOID card, which is required for gun purchases, those carrying a firearm or to obtain ammunition. There are 2.26 million FOID card holders in Illinois and nearly 280,000 others have gone through an enhanced background check to obtain a concealed carry license.

Copley said the FOID card makes Illinois somewhat safer than other states with lax rules, but he said there are people who own guns and don't have a FOID card.

Frese said last year when he bought shotgun shells for dove hunting, the store in Hannibal, Mo., asked for his identification and then asked to see his FOID card when the cashier saw he was from Illinois.

"That law did stretch across the river," Frese said.

In addition to Trump's promise to be "very strong on background checks," he indicated support for allowing teachers and other school employees to carry concealed weapons to be ready for intruders.

"If a potential ‘sicko shooter' knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won't go there...problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won't work!" Trump tweeted.

He has previously expressed an interest in efforts to strengthen the federal background check system. It was not clear if he would back closing loopholes that permit loose private sales on the internet and at gun shows.


The Associated Press ?provided information for this story.

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