Illinois Members..We did good, but it's no time to rest on our laurels


Jeff White
June 3, 2005, 04:36 PM
Legislative session ends with full plate
The Associated Press

State lawmakers will
tackle casinos, other
issues again in the fall

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - After all the action and the deal-making, Illlinois state legislators left behind a long list of unfinished business that is likely to resurface when they return in the fall.

More and larger riverboat casinos, updated telephone and electricity regulations, a new system for funding public schools, stricter campaign finance laws and a host of gun-control measures were discussed by the Legislature without any final decisions.

For some, the timing wasn't right. For others, the politics were a little too sensitive. Either way, they won't fade away.

With the state facing a $1.2 billion deficit, backers of gambling expansion had good reason to believe this was their year.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich initially criticized the idea of using gambling to prop up the state budget. Eventually, though, he proposed funding education by more than doubling the number of gaming positions at the state's nine riverboat casinos. Senate President Emil Jones proposed an even more extensive plan that would also put slot machines at horse racing tracks.

Ultimately, though, Democrats pushed through a budget plan that relied on pension funding, blaming Republicans for the lack of progress on gambling and other revenue ideas. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's push near the end of the session for a Chicago casino didn't help matters either, lawmakers said.

"In the end, I believe that if we had acted sooner we would have had a chance to pass one of those (gambling) bills," said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, who heads the House Gaming Committee.

Lawmakers say they expect that gambling expansion will be on the negotiating table again next year.

Another issue still simmering is how the state pays for schools.

Jones pushed this spring for a sweeping shift in the school finance formula from a reliance on local property taxes to a reliance on state income taxes. Proponents of the tax swap plan said the current system shortchanges poor students and provides vastly different educational opportunities, depending on an area's property values.

Blagojevich vowed to veto the plan, and enough lawmakers were opposed to the idea of increasing income taxes that it died.

Other issues on the agenda got less attention from lawmakers but could have had a wide impact on consumers.

One was a bid to deregulate Illinois' local telephone market. Telephone giant SBC made a strong push for cutting back state regulation; the state Senate agreed, but the House balked amid complaints from consumer groups and competitors.

Lawmakers decided to extend the current telecommunications law for two years. Gun rights advocates led by the National Rifle Association enjoyed a string of successes this spring, defeating a number of measures by Chicago Democrats to tighten gun laws.

The failed proposals included allowing lawsuits against the gun industry, limiting handgun purchases to one a month, banning assault rifles and strengthening penalties for illegal gun possession. Gun-control advocates did have one victory when lawmakers voted to require background checks for buyers at gun shows.

And Blagojevich's proposal to "rock the system" of Illinois campaign finance by limiting political donations and tightening restrictions on lawmakers and lobbyists went nowhere after it was introduced just 20 days before the end of the session. The governor said legislators were too focused on other important issues.

"We proposed it, we intend to keep trying to get it and make it happen," Blagojevich said.

I know that HB2414 (Assault Weapons/50 cal ban) has been extended through 31 December. We will undoubtedly see it again in the Fall veto session. We need to somehow reach those collar county republicans over the summer and make them understand that voting for this will have bad political consequences.


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Bud Wiser
June 3, 2005, 04:48 PM
What hasn't been mentioned is this little story about how the NRA let the crooked police state of Illinois steal one more of our rights! Tyrants!

State to Restrict Stun-Gun Buys
Firearm ID card, 1-day wait will be required

By Christi Parsons and Gary Washburn
Tribune staff reporters

June 3, 2005

Gov. Rod Blagojevich plans to sign legislation Friday that would require people who want to buy Tasers or other stun guns in Illinois to submit to a background check, just as if they were buying a rifle or other firearm.

The legislation, overwhelmingly approved by state lawmakers with little fanfare this spring, is the strongest response so far in the state to concerns that stun guns are potentially deadly and easy to misuse.

At the same time, a Chicago alderman is pushing a measure to require that sellers report the names of stun-gun buyers to the police, creating a paper trail that investigators could use if crimes are committed with them.

The bill on the governor's desk applies to civilians, although the sponsor said it was inspired in part by the death of a Chicago man after police used a Taser on him this year.

The measure would require stun-gun buyers in Illinois to have a state firearm owner's identification card--which requires a criminal background check--and wait at least 24 hours before making their purchase.

Though critics contend stun guns aren't lethal, sponsors of the proposals say they are just as dangerous as firearms.

"It only makes sense that civilians be required to undergo criminal background checks and a waiting period before they buy something capable of administering that kind of force," said state Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston), author of the bill on the governor's desk. "We should make the standards tougher for these things, which have enough voltage to kill somebody."

But sellers are angry about the proposals, which they say wrongly target law-abiding citizens who just want to be able to protect themselves. Stun guns should be available to anyone who thinks they need one, they argue.

Gregory Tropino, owner of G.A.T. Guns in Dundee Township, said he thinks elected officials are trying to solve problems that don't exist. The complaints are generally about how police use stun guns, and not about abuse by civilians, he said.

"I haven't seen statistics that say they're being used that often," Tropino said. "I don't see the necessity for the law when there's not a problem with it."

Stun guns have come under heightened scrutiny in recent years, as increased police use has drawn complaints across the nation that the devices involve excessive force and can kill in some cases. In February, a Chicago man died after police shocked him with a Taser when he tried to bite an officer, though medical examiners said Thursday they aren't certain if the stun gun was a factor in the death.

Though most criticism centers on how about 7,000 police departments nationwide are using stun guns, there are reports of street violence involving the weapons. A 20-year-old Elgin man who died after a mob fight in March was shocked several times with a stun gun by someone involved in the melee, police said, though the coroner determined the cause of death was a blow to the head. And in Round Lake, a high school student was suspended after he shocked another student with a stun gun two years ago.

In response to safety concerns, several cities and seven states have banned stun guns for civilian use, and this year state lawmakers in other states have considered passing almost three dozen laws to restrict the right to buy and own them. Illinois would be the first state to require a firearm license to own a stun gun, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures

Taser International, the maker of Tasers, said it has sold more than 100,000 stun guns to private citizens since 1994, when the company began selling to the public. The company is pushing to increase civilian sales but refused to say how many Tasers have been sold in Illinois.

Stun guns work by delivering a high voltage, low amperage shock that makes it difficult for the target to move and function for a few seconds. Often similar to a television remote control in shape and size, many stun guns require the user to make physical contact with the target.

The Taser models, on the other hand, can work from several feet away. They use compressed nitrogen to propel wires capped with electrodes. Because they don't use gunpowder, they aren't considered handguns and so are not regulated by the federal government.

Some stun guns sell for as little as $30. Tasers marketed to private citizens can cost as much as $1,000.

Illinois law generally prohibits people from carrying stun guns anywhere but at their homes and businesses. Bradley Tusk, a top aide to the governor, said Blagojevich would sign the new measure into law Friday.

Chicago Ald. Edward Burke (14th) originally proposed a ban on the sale and possession of stun guns in the city. But after he discovered that ownership is legal under state law, he decided to push instead for an ordinance requiring sellers to report all sales to the Police Department. Police would keep track of those sales.

If a stun gun is used in a robbery or other crime, Burke argues, police will have the advantage of knowing to whom the device was sold.

The proposal is awaiting consideration by a City Council committee.

Although Tasers are available on the Internet, Burke believes the company would voluntarily comply with an ordinance.

"They are a vendor to the city, and every police sergeant now has Taser," Burke said. "If they would not comply with notification and registration provisions, the city would not agree to purchase their product."

The maker of Tasers insists the products are not deadly. Taser International officials said the company requires criminal background checks for civilians who buy directly from it and refuses to sell to felons.

Any time a civilian model is fired, it releases at least 20 pieces of tiny confetti bearing the serial number, making it possible to trace to the company's records of registered owners.

"No other weapon in the world--guns, knives, chemical and pepper sprays, electronic defense units, or batons--can be traced from evidence at the scene of the crime to the registration of the user," Taser International spokesman Steve Tuttle said.

The National Rifle Association did not actively oppose the stun-gun measure in the legislature. But some local gun dealers, many of whom also sell stun guns, said the changes are a bad idea.

Roger Krahl, owner of R Guns in Carpentersville, said the licensing requirement amounts to at least a monthlong waiting period for people who don't have the firearm identification card. State police can take that long to process an application.

"It's getting to the point where it's ridiculous," Krahl said.

"What's next? Are we going to need a FOID card to own kitchen knives?",1,6577740,print.story?coll=chi-newsaol-headlines&ctrack=1&cset=true

Control Group
June 3, 2005, 04:52 PM
Gun rights advocates led by the National Rifle Association enjoyed a string of successes this spring, defeating a number of measures by Chicago Democrats to tighten gun laws.
First, congrats to my neighbors to the south. Well-fought, and good luck when they resurface in a little bit.

That being said, though, it really galls me to see these referred to as "successes." When these things go our way, it's always reported as though we've dealt gun control a death blow, when in fact all we've managed to do is hold the line. "Success" would be legalizing possession within Chicago, "success" would be getting CCW for the state, "success" would be eliminating the FOID.

I don't want to minimize what those of you fighting the good fight in Illinois have accomplished; I understand it takes a lot of hard work (and money) to even maintain your rights in their reduced form within the current political climate of this country in general and your state in particular.

Nor do I want to single out Illinois' battles as somehow different on this one, I see the same thing on the federal level.

It's more a comment on one more way the MSM is subtly and pervasively arrayed against RKBA. By calling these efforts "successes," they make it sound like there's a back-and-forth, where sometimes we win, and sometimes they win. When in fact, it's more like sometimes they win and sometimes we don't lose.

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