SPRINGFIELD — The General Assembly will gather for its fall veto session on Tuesday with gun control legislation to consider again in light of national tragedy, including a provision to ban "bump stocks," the devices used by the gunman in what is now the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
At least two bills are being considered following the shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and more than 500 wounded on Oct. 1.
House Bill 4107, introduced Oct. 5 by state Rep. Martin Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat, would ban the sale of bump stocks, as well as assault weapons, large-caliber rifles and large-capacity magazines, described in the bill as holding 10 or more rounds of ammunition. Senate Bill 1657 would create state licensing for gun dealers and was filed by state Rep. Kathleen Willis, a Democrat from Addison.
“Gun control is a sore subject with gun enthusiasts,” said Dan Cooley, owner of The Bullet Trap in Macon. “We're keeping our customers abreast of the situation, and as soon as we can, we'll go ahead and file witness slips,” Cooley said, referring to formal objections to legislation that can be filed by individuals or groups. “We're giving instructions on our Facebook page for customers who want to object to it.”
HB 4107 is scheduled for a hearing before the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee at 3 p.m. Tuesday. SB 1657, which was filed in the Senate in February, is on the legislative calendar for a third reading and floor debate in the House, which is followed by a vote. It passed the Senate on April 27.
But finding support among Central Illinois lawmakers may prove problematic.
State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said the critical question is whether the resolution will have the intended result.
“There are lots of law-abiding individuals who are not the source of the problems caused by those bearing weapons throughout the country,” he said. “It’s a delicate balance. I have not seen the bill but we will look at any and all legislation. The critical question is if this is a legitimate proposal that would have an effect that is intended or it is an overreach by the government.”
State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and does not want to see that watered down in any fashion.
“I have been waiting to see the federal reports on the weapons used in the Las Vegas mass shooting but bump stocks are a concern,” he said. “From what I have seen in Springfield is bills that overreach the second amendment but right now, I am reviewing House Bill 4120 that appears to respect the Second Amendment and also deals with bump stocks.”
Gun control legislation following mass shootings often focus on “assault weapons,” and high-capacity magazines that the killers often use. In addition to those, Moylan’s proposal also addresses large-caliber ammunition, such as a .50-caliber bullet, used mostly in machine guns and sniper rifles by militaries worldwide, but also for some hunting.
The legislation is a piece of a puzzle, said Colleen Daley, executive director of the Illinois Council Against Hand Gun Violence.
"We are supportive of the measure. I don't think weapons of war should be on our streets," she said. "We ban automatic weapons for a reason. Bump stocks are not something people should have access to."
The Illinois State Rifle Association, the state arm of the National Rifle Association, said it is keeping an eye on all legislation as it relates to gun rights, but Executive Director Richard Pearson said he doesn’t see much to support in the latest proposals.
“We oppose it ... no wiggle room (on Moylan's bill),” Pearson said. “There's a lot of bills out there right now; there's several bump stocks bills, so we'll be looking at those to see if there's anything we can deal with there. We're still watching things being proposed. We'll see what happens; we always look at legislation.”
A bill to require state licensing of gun dealers has made it all the way to a floor vote in the House after clearing all its legislative hurdles since being introduced in February and passing the Senate.
Willis, the Addison Democrat, said 16 states already require a state license for gun dealers in addition to a federal license.
"This bill is something that has been worked on for 15 years," Willis said. "I don't think that it is definitely tied to the Las Vegas shootings. I think this is a good business practice bill."