Target: Illinois General Assembly; Senate President John Cullerton
Goal: Commend Illinois General Assembly for passing gun policy and urge for greater reforms.
Overcoming factional negotiations and a looming federal court deadline, Illinois lawmakers passed a gun bill that put restrictions on those who want to carry concealed firearms in public. Illinois became the last state in the country to pass a concealed gun law due to Democratic legislators holding out for as long as they could. When the federal court ruled concealed weapons bans unconstitutional, Illinois legislators had to act quickly or otherwise risk having no negotiated policy to take its place. In result, the law offers concessions to those who demand greater gun protections as well as to gun-rights advocates.
The safeguards include a list of public spaces where guns are off limits, such as schools, libraries, parks, and public transportation. In addition, those who want to carry a concealed weapon in public must pass background checks and complete 16 hours of training. Law enforcement agencies possess the right to deny a license applicant based on reasonable suspicion that the applicant should not be trusted to own a firearm.
The passing of the gun bill arrived at an unfortunately too-appropriate time. Chicago was rocked on July 4, not by the celebratory fireworks but by a deadly upsurge of violence. Twelve people were killed over the July 4 weekend while 70 others were injured from shootings. The weekend also marked a somber milestone: the 200th gun murder in Chicago for 2013 alone, and there are still six months of the year remaining.
Although the bill added safeguards to possessing firearms, alone they are not enough to comprehensively address Chicago’s unrelenting gun violence. Governor Pat Quinn’s overruled veto moved to ban firearms from all establishments that serve alcohol and to limit the number of hidden firearms one can hold at a time. He argued that the bill, although a small victory, was still far too lenient. “[The legislation] has shortcomings that will lead to tragedies,” he told the press. By signing the petition below, you will commend Illinois for acting swiftly and responsibly to reach federal deadlines, yet will also urge Illinois’ lawmakers to continue their bipartisan efforts to effectively protect the public from further gun violence.
Dear Senate President John Cullerton,
With more than two hundred gun murders, Chicago has already seen too much bloodshed in 2013 as we reach only the seventh month of the year. We applaud the Illinois General Assembly for acting responsibly and passing the negotiated concealed gun carry law before the federal court’s deadline. Given the highly polemic climate of the gun rights debate, reaching a consensus is an arduous process that requires compromise and difficult decision-making, all of which the GA managed to do. Restricting the public spaces in which gun owners can carry concealed weapons and imposing stricter qualifications for potential gun owners are necessary measures for the public’s safety.
Still, the battle against gun violence is anything but over. Illinois should be wary of complacency after its recent victory; rather, the GA should use this momentum to fight for further gun protections. We agree with Governor Quinn’s call to ban firearms from all establishments that serve alcohol and to limit the number the number of concealed firearms a resident can carry to only one at a time. Senator Cullerton, you told reporters, “If we didn’t pass anything, we’d have the Wild West.” However, your fellow Chicago Senator Jacqueline Collins responded that “we already have in my district a Wild, Wild West.” We urge you to listen to Gov. Quinn, your fellow Senators, and to the people of Illinois by mobilizing the General Assembly to enact further safeguards against gun violence.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Steve Rhodes via Flickr