Posted 17 September 2019 - 06:44 AM
Prompted by recent mass shootings across the country and gun violence in Illinois, the General Assembly formed a task force to examine whether state laws need to be changed — and this is hardly an area with any "easy" subjects to start with.
The first issue lawmakers plan to wrestle is the bail bonds system that's pitted reform-minded Cook County officials against Chicago's mayor and police who worry that inmates with histories of gun violence are being released back on the streets.
"Everyone says they have the statistics that show they're right to make the streets safer. So we're going to debate the issue and do everything we can with the discussion," state Rep. La Shawn Ford (8th ), who will head the bipartisan House Firearm Public Awareness Task Force, told Playbook.
House Speaker Mike Madigan announced the task force in a letter to Clerk of the House John Hollman and Republican Leader Jim Durkin. According to Madigan, the task force "will review the issue of gun violence and make recommendations designed to reduce violence."
By design, the group is bipartisan: Madigan named 10 Democrats to the task force, and a spokesman for Durkin told Playbook that he's in the process of naming 10 Republicans. "Everyone has their beliefs of gun policies and how we should restrict or not restrict gun rights," Ford said. "This will be an open and honest discussion, where gun-rights advocates can speak their truth and where those who have disagreements with the Second Amendment can speak, too."
Ford says he's particularly concerned with how schools, hospitals and other public areas have been the targets of gun violence.
Along with bail reform, the task force will study Illinois' concealed carry firearm law to see if it needs to be modified. Ford said "there's a concern" that gun violence has gone up since the law was enacted in 2013.
And lawmakers will examine guns that are on the market, specifically assault rifles. "Nationally, we're [even] hearing Republicans say we have to do something about these assault rifles," said Ford. "This is something we'll seriously consider in Illinois."
The task force will present its findings to all branches of government and offer opinions to municipalities. Ford said the task force likely will draft a comprehensive, statewide omnibus bill on firearms.
Along with Ford, the Democrats on the task force are Reps. Monica Bristow (111th), Sonya Harper (6th), Barbara Hernandez (83rd), Yehiel "Mark" Kalish (16th), Stephanie Kifowit (84th), Theresa Mah (2nd), Martin Moylan (55th), Aaron Ortiz (1st) and Kathleen Willis (77th).
Stung by the result of McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010), the City quickly enacted an ordinance that was too clever by half. Recognizing that a complete gun ban would no longer survive Supreme Court review, the City required all gun owners to obtain training that included one hour of live‐range instruction, and then banned all live ranges within City limits. This was not so much a nod to the importance of live‐range training as it was a thumbing of the municipal nose at the Supreme Court.