Law Abiding Citizens are in the Legislature’s Crosshairs

As I write this column, we are still learning about the Illinois Senate’s so-called “Grand Bargain.” In next week’s column we will explore the Grand Bargain, but this week I’d like to focus on what happened in the House.

It wasn’t all bad news in Springfield this week. The House passed Senate Bill 607 – a bill on which Senator Bivins and I collaborated. S.B. 607 strikes an archaic passage of the Illinois criminal code which banned the use of spring-assisted knives in Illinois. While some people still have a negative opinion of this particular tool, many others know that this instrument is useful to professionals such as paramedics and law enforcement. Laws prohibiting the possession or manufacturing of these knives are extremely antiquated, and most states have either repealed those laws or are in the process of doing so. S.B. 607 has passed both the Senate and the House and is now headed to the Governor for his signature.

Many of you are still contacting my office with regard to Senate Bill 1657 – the Gun Dealer Licensing Act. As always, I appreciate the phone calls and e-mails. The overwhelming majority of you will be pleased to know that I am adamantly opposed to this bill. Some of you have asked for me to articulate why I oppose the bill, so I’ll take a moment to answer that request.

There are few issues that are more divisive than gun control. There are few issues that have more widespread misconceptions than gun control. And without a doubt, gun control is by far the issue that has the biggest sliding scale of narratives.

We all know that Illinois has a gun violence problem. In 2016, Chicago alone saw 762 murders from gun violence. Ironically, this city which is so fraught with gun violence also has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Furthermore, the city of Chicago has banned gun stores altogether. So then why isn’t this gun-free safe zone one of the safest places in the nation?

A logical person understands that laws are for law-abiding citizens. Criminals have little to no regard for the laws that govern us. Understanding all of this, we must conclude that gun laws do little to deter criminals and much to deter law-abiding citizens.

Chicago is the manifestation of this disconnect. But instead of recognizing this and changing course, many politicians have decided to point fingers. And as for S.B. 1657, politicians have decided to hamstring gun dealers instead of focusing on the offenders. Unfortunately, law abiding gun store owners and operators are the ones who are in the legislature’s crosshairs.

I could get into the minutia of the bill. I could talk about how you don’t have to own a gun store to legally sell weapons. Those law-abiding private citizens would be slapped with fines and cumbersome regulations. Our legislature may not be very good at passing budgets, but we sure know how to impose fines and regulations.

Lastly, regarding this gun-control measure, the bill fails to address one of the most egregious offenders – straw purchasers. Straw purchasers are those who legally buy firearms and illegally sell those firearms to criminals and would-be criminals. Tragically, these conduits often receive little more than a slap on the wrist for their part in murders. The fact that the drafted bill does nothing to address straw purchasers exemplifies the tone-deafness of the entire concept of the regulation.

We would do well to remember that political narratives often make for lousy laws. And even the best of intentions do not turn a lousy law into a good one. In this instance, I remember what someone once said when they perfectly encapsulated the absurdity of most gun control measures: “Making good people helpless won’t make bad people harmless.”

As always, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com and use the contact form to send me an e-mail.

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