January 29, 2013
By Thomas Frisbie
It may seem a little odd for lawmakers pondering gun issues to take target practice.
But that's on the schedule of Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon's new Firearms Working Group. On Tuesday, Simon announced she had convened the group, all of whom are Springfield newbies, and they'll "learn to safely operate a firearm at the Sparta World Shooting Complex."
The 15-member panel is billed as bipartisan, but it has just two Republicans. Of course, after the beating the GOP took statewide in the Nov. 6 election, it's not as easy to find Republicans as it once was.
The panel's official goal is "to learn about different perspectives and bridge the geographical divide on gun ownership and use in Illinois."
The working group members are 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. Charles Meier (R-Highland); Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago); Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale); Rep. Emanuel Welch (D-Hillside); Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison), and Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Round Lake Beach)
The working group is supposed to 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.
Among the organizations the group will meet with are the Illinois State Rifle Association and the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.
Meanwhile, Elliot Fineman, chief executive officer of the Nation Gun Victims Action Council, is taking issue with the commonly used phrase "law-abiding gun owner."
"What is implied by the phrase "law-abiding gun owner" is that they will always be law abiding, need no regulations or boundaries, can be counted on to follow every law," Fineman posted on the organization's blog. "...Because someone is law-abiding today, does not mean they will be law abiding tomorrow; we must be very, very careful about who is a gun owner and there are sensible ways to do that. The NRA deliberately coined the phrase "law-abiding gun owner" to argue that they would always be law abiding and criminals would always be criminals. This ignores the reality that every criminal was once a law-abiding citizen."