Semi-auto gun ban only part of solution, Illinois House told

Dec 15, 2022, 1:59 AM | Updated: 4:02 pm
FILE - Illinois state Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, speaks during a press conference surrounded by ...

FILE - Illinois state Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, speaks during a press conference surrounded by anti-gun violence advocates, many of whom have a connection to the recent Highland Park shooting, at the Capitol in Washington on July 20, 2022. Researchers and community activists told lawmakers Thursday, Dec. 15, that removing guns from the streets of cities in the state will help curb gun violence like the mass shooting at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, Ill., but that it must be followed up with programs to change attitudes and give people alternatives and hope. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, File)

(AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — At an Illinois House committee hearing Thursday, researchers and community activists said having fewer firearms in communities will help stop bloodshed — from the persistent gun violence haunting Chicago to mass shootings like the one at a suburban July Fourth parade — but this must be followed by programs to change attitudes and give people alternatives.

Democrats who control the General Assembly are positioning a wide-ranging gun law for a vote as early as next month, during a lame-duck session. That follows Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s call last summer for a semi-automatic weapons ban, following the parade massacre that killed seven and injured 30 in Highland Park.

The House Judiciary-Criminal Law Committee is conducting hearings on the proposed legislation, which would ban semi-automatic weapons, restrict gun possession by those younger than 21 and toughen so-called “red flag” laws that allow removing guns from a dangerous person for up to a year instead of six months.

“The goal is to make sure we’re keeping dangerous weapons from those who shouldn’t have them,” said the measure’s sponsor, Rep. Bob Morgan, a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Deerfield who attended the Highland Park parade.

Critics told the committee the law would do little to curb violence, and would likely be unconstitutional.

Chicago resident Andrew Guadarrama recited a list of U.S. Supreme Court cases he said would prohibit implementation the proposed gun law.

“To disarm the people would not save lives. … Criminals do not follow laws,” Guadarrama said.

The Protect Illinois Communities Act puts gun violence back at the top of lawmakers’ agenda following the Highland Park shooting — as it did after a man killed five co-workers at an Aurora warehouse in 2019 and five students were fatally wounded and 17 injured at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb in 2008.

There are enough Democrats in both the House and Senate to approve the legislation without Republican assistance. But firearms restraints are always a tough sell for Democrats from central and southern Illinois, where hunters and sports shooters see guns far differently than their counterparts in urban areas like Chicago.

Witnesses such as Leo Smith of the anti-violence group Chicago CRED said increased investment in neighborhoods troubled by violence has made a difference. Delrice Adams, executive director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, cited statistics supporting the plan, including the decrease in violence from 1994 to 2004 when the federal government banned semi-automatic weapons.

But even supporters of the legislation emphasized that it takes more than a gun ban. Programs and professionals are needed to help young people escape the streets and change their attitudes about the future.

“I’m all for the ban of assault weapons, I wish all guns were off the street, but that’s not reality,” said Joseph Saunders, an activist and mentor on Chicago’s South Side.

“We’ve got hearts that need to be changed, minds that need to be changed,” he said. “If all guns were non-existent, and the heart and the mind have not changed, they’re going to go with knives, anything they can pick up.”

The proposal would ban semi-automatic weapons and .50-caliber guns and cartridges. It does not offer a definition of the firearms that qualify. Instead, it lists 49 specific types or brands of rifles, including the AR-15 and AK-47, and 20 types of pistols.

People under age 21 currently can obtain a Firearm Owners Identification card with the consent of a parent or guardian, but the measure would prohibit those under 21 who are not in the military from getting the card. They could hunt under the supervision of a guardian who has a gun owner ID.

A court-ordered Firearm Restraining Order could be issued for a year, instead of six months. The bill would also bolster the power of the Illinois State Police to target trafficking of illegal guns from outside state lines, working with federal authorities.

Rep. Tony McCombie, a Republican from the western Illinois city of Savannah, said rather than protect communities, the plan would jeopardize safety.

“This will leave communities, women unprotected,” said McCombie, who will be the House Minority Leader when a new Legislature is seated next month. “They’ll be unprotected and ultimately victimized. This is ineffective and unconstitutional.”

Abraham Avalos of Waukegan, north of Chicago, who participated in the Highland Park parade and said he helped bandage the wounded, argued the proposal would not offer the protection promised in its name.

“We know there are people who respect life, and those who don’t respect life,” Avalos said. “That’s why I carry a gun, to protect my life, to protect my family’s life, to protect my friends’ lives.”


Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Protesters gather in front of police headquarters while marching Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Memphi...
Associated Press

Memphis police disband unit that fatally beat Tyre Nichols

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis police chief disbanded the city’s so-called Scorpion unit on Saturday, citing a “cloud of dishonor” from newly released video that showed some of its officers beating Tyre Nichols to death after stopping the Black motorist. Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis acted a day after the harrowing video emerged, saying […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: JAN 29, Prohibition launches

Today in History Today is Sunday, Jan. 29, the 29th day of 2023. There are 336 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Jan. 29, 1936, the first inductees of baseball’s Hall of Fame, including Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, were named in Cooperstown, New York. On this date: In 1820, King […]
22 hours ago
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., is seen in the U.S. Capitol, July 14, 2022, in Washington.  Gallego sa...
Associated Press

Gallego holds first events of Arizona Senate campaign

PHOENIX (AP) — Democrat Ruben Gallego held the first public events of his U.S. Senate campaign Saturday, taking aim at independent incumbent Kyrsten Sinema and casting his candidacy in a patriotic appeal to the American dream. The fifth-term congressman recounted his journey from a poor family in Chicago to cleaning toilets as a Harvard student […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Saturday’s Scores

GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL= Bothell 44, Glacier Peak 40 Burlington-Edison 47, Squalicum 33 Columbia River 53, R.A. Long 28 Entiat 60, Cascade (Leavenworth) 9 Evergreen Lutheran 48, Three Rivers Christian School 26 Hermiston, Ore. 66, Pasco 36 Kamiakin 61, Kennewick 35 Kennedy 49, Bainbridge 42 La Conner 81, Skyview 77 Lakeside (Seattle) 71, Seattle Prep 37 […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Saturday’s Scores

BOYS PREP BASKETBALL= Bothell 64, Glacier Peak 49 Cedarcrest 60, Marysville-Pilchuck 57 Inchelium 71, Springdale 70 Kellogg, Idaho 50, Newport 27 Lynden 69, Lakewood 50 Naselle 63, Winlock 59 Sound Christian 69, Pope John Paul II 34 ___ Some high school basketball scores provided by, Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Arizona Republicans pick former Trump official to lead party

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Republicans on Saturday selected former state treasurer and Donald Trump aide Jeff DeWit to be the party’s next chairman, turning to a familiar face with relationships across the fractured party after its worst election in decades. DeWit replaces firebrand Trump ally Kelli Ward, who helped the former president in his efforts […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Semi-auto gun ban only part of solution, Illinois House told