Diverse, bipartisan group will meet with hunters, law enforcement, mental health experts and crime victims on concealed carry, gun issues
CHICAGO – January 29, 2013. As state leaders debate concealed carry legislation, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon is convening a Firearms Working Group comprised of new members of the General Assembly to learn about different perspectives and bridge the geographical divide on gun ownership and use in Illinois.
The working group includes Republican and Democratic State Senators and Representatives elected to the General Assembly for the first time to represent urban, suburban and rural districts. They will meet with stakeholders on all sides of the gun control debate as the legislature considers a law that could allow Illinoisans to carry concealed firearms.
Currently Illinois is the only state in the nation with a law banning concealed carry. The law was declared unconstitutional in December by a three-member panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the state was ordered to pass a law allowing concealed carry within 180 days. Attorney General Madigan has asked the full 7th Circuit Court for review, but lawmakers are working on legislation in response to the court order and other high-profile gun control issues such as an assault weapons ban.
Simon’s Firearms Working Group intends to dialogue with stakeholders on all sides of the gun control debate and work toward consensus on components of the pending legislation. Meetings will be held in Springfield and communities around Illinois, where members will meet with gun owners, hunters, families impacted by gun violence, domestic violence prevention advocates, mental health experts, law enforcement officials, among others. Members will also learn to safely operate a firearm at the Sparta World Shooting Complex.
“State leaders need to engage in honest discussion about concealed carry, but it is difficult to have that honest discussion without fully understanding all the perspectives on gun issues,” said Lt. Governor Simon, a former Jackson County prosecutor and law professor. “By bringing together new members to learn about deeply held – often regional – perspectives, I believe we can set fair policies for the state and keep guns from falling into the wrong hands."
Simon’s Firearms Working Group includes:
• Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake)
• Sen. Thomas Cullerton (D-Villa Park)
• Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago)
• Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Orland Park)
• Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)
• Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield)
• Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford)
• Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon)
• Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood)
• Rep. Josh Harms (R-Watseka)
• Rep. Charles Meier (R-Highland)
• Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago)
• Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale)
• Rep. Emanuel Welch (D-Hillside)
• Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison)
• Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Round Lake Beach)
The Illinois State Rifle Association and the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence plan to meet with the Firearms Working Group in the coming weeks to outline their priorities for concealed carry legislation.
“The Illinois State Rifle Association looks forward to participating in the Lt. Governor’s Firearms Working Group,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. “The input of law-abiding firearm owners will help frame the debate by clearing up misconceptions about private firearm ownership.”
“The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence applauds Lieutenant Governor Simon for bringing people from all sides of the gun debate together to work on this complex issue,” said Colleen Daley, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence. “As the General Assembly considers commonsense gun control measures in the coming session we think it is important for all legislators to understand all sides of this debate. We look forward to working with the task force and thank the Lieutenant Governor for her efforts."
For more information on Simon’s Firearms Working Group, please visit www.ltgov.illinois.gov/guns.