Proposal to ban assault weapons draws differing local reactions
Lane Lebrun is concerned how a ban on assault weapons may impact his business.| Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
What do you think of Gov. Quinn's proposal to ban assault weapons?
Updated: September 10, 2012 6:10AM
LIBERTYVILLE -- Gun shop owner Lane Lebrun is concerned about recent calls for greater gun control, including Gov. Quinn’s proposed ban on assault weapons in Illinois.
“It was kind of surprising that one person would be trying to exploit recent events to do something like this. Hopefully, saner minds will prevail when it gets back to the (Illinois) House,” said Lebrun, who owns Just Target Guns in Libertyville.
The mass-casualty shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July and most recently at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin have reignited a debate over a potential ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines at both the state and national level.
Gun rights advocate believe the proposed laws are misguided and will not solve the problem of gun violence. But supporters of stricter gun laws believe these efforts will prevent future tragedies.
State Rep. Carol Sente, D-59th, of Vernon Hills, said she supports a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines at the state level.
Sente said she is a co-sponsor of a House bill by State Rep. Edward Acevado, D-Chicago, that would ban the sale, purchase or manufacture of semi-automatic assault weapons or assault weapons attachments. She is also the chief sponsor of House Bill 1871, which would ban the sale, manufacture or purchase of large capacity ammunition feeding devices.
Sente said her main motivation for supporting legislation at the state level is because of recent tragedies involving the use of semi-automatic weapons by deranged gunmen like the recent Colorado movie theater shooting and the mass shooting that seriously injured Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.
‘Can’t feel safe’
“We’ve seen so many of these incidents and they’re increasing,” said Sente. “You can’t feel safe in a movie theater, you can’t feel safe in a school. We need to ban assault weapons.”
But Lebrun questions whether a ban on certain types of weapons would reduce violence. He said that when the federal assault weapons ban was in effect from 1994-2004, there was not a noticeable decrease in mass shootings. The mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, for example, occurred in 1999, when the assault weapons ban was still in effect.
“With that law, it failed to reduce crime or stop anything from happening,” he said. “If it was a failure at the federal level, how is it going to be any different at the state level?”
Lebrun said Illinois already has some of the strictest guns in the country and gun owners have to go through an extensive background check with the Illinois State Police to obtain a Firearms Owners Identification card in order to legally possess a firearm or ammunition.
Connie Shanahan, a firearms instructor at Just Target Guns, noted that under Gov. Quinn’s proposed assault weapons ban, certain hunting guns such as turkey hunting guns with pistol grabs would be considered illegal as well as antique collectable guns such certain kinds of World War I and Civil War rifles.
Sente said the state legislation she supports would not be targeted at hunting or antique weapons but at military-style assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition clips that have been used by gunmen in recent tragedies.
“I come from a family of hunters,” she said. “You don’t need a high-capacity ammunition clip or an assault weapon to go hunting.”
In response to a question regarding an assault weapons ban at the federal level, John McGovern, campaign spokesman for U.S. Rep. Robert Dold, R-10th, of Kenilworth, released the following statement: “Congressman Dold respects the right of the governor, state legislature and voters to determine policy for the state. At the federal level, he has consistently called for reasonable gun ownership combined with reasonable gun restrictions. He supports closing gun show loopholes and has worked with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to support legislation to keep firearms out of the hands of potential terrorists.”
Dold’s general election opponent, Democrat Brad Schneider, said he in a statement that he supports a ban on assault weapons.
“Senseless gun violence is, tragically, an everyday occurrence in this country, and assault weapons far too easily find their way into the hands of unstable or criminal individuals,” he said. “Since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was allowed to expire, we have seen a tragic increase in the number of crimes involving these automatic weapons. I believe that assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have no business on our streets or near our children.”