Ban on assault weapons makes its way to the Illinois House

BY CHRIS ESSIG, The Southern Springfield Bureau | Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 10:58 am |

SPRINGFIELD-An Illinois ban on assault weapons gained initial traction on Wednesday. A House committee dominated by Chicago Democrats approved the measure on a vote of 7-4. It now makes its way to the full House.

The hot button issue has been proposed frequently since a federal ban on semiautomatic weapons expired in 2004. But it has failed to become law in Illinois.
The issue showcased the ideological difference between gun opponents, who are supported by Chicago Democrats, and gun advocates, who are supported by Downstate lawmakers. Some law enforcement members say the weapons are tools for murder, while gun advocates say a ban would impede on their Second Amendment rights.

"They are not designed for sport, they are designed to kill humans quickly and efficiently," said state Rep. Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago, who sponsored the legislation. Many high-profile shootings have involved assault weapons, including a recent case in Chicago where three teens were killed by an AK47, noted James Jackson, an assistant superintendent at the Chicago Police Department.
"Assault weapons remain a very real problem for law enforcement," Jackson told members of the House Executive Committee.

But gun advocates say the weapons are indeed designed for hunting. They also say that gun manufacturers would be run out of the state because the legislation includes a ban on manufacturing assault weapons.
"Sixty five Illinois manufactures are going to leave the state because they won't be able to service their clients," said Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.

State Rep. Joseph Lyons, D-Chicago, raised concerns that the ban wouldn't do enough to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
"No matter what we try to do, the mutts of the world are going to find ways to get guns," he said. He, however, voted in favor of the measure.

State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, voted against it.

The legislation is House Bill 5751.