Both Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on
Wednesday night praised an Illinois Senate committee's approval
of a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition
In a party-line vote, the committee approved measures that would
ban the possession, delivery, sale and transfer of semiautomatic
handguns and rifles, but would allow current owners to keep them.
High-capacity ammunition magazines would be restricted.
Quinn said he is very pleased the Public Health Committee took
"There is no place in Illinois for weapons designed to rapidly
fire at human targets at close range," he said.
MORE: Chicago reaches 500 homicides with fatal shooting
In a statement, Emanuel said in order to protect children,
families and communities, there is a need for "common-sense laws
that provide the residents of our cities with the safety they
Gun rights groups, however, said the measures go too far and
amount to an assault-weapons ban "on steroids."
Democrats are seeking restrictions in the wake of the school
massacre in Connecticut last month and mass shootings in
Wisconsin and Colorado last year. While the measures were
approved by the committee, supporters will have a tougher sell in
the full Senate, where downstate Democrats as well as Republicans
are more pro-gun.
One measure would ban the possession, delivery, sale and transfer
of semiautomatic handguns and rifles. People who currently own
such weapons could keep them but would have to register them. The
bill would allow semiautomatic weapons to be used at shooting
ranges, but those facilities would be regulated.
National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde told
lawmakers the bill would restrict about 75 percent of handguns
and 50 percent of long guns in circulation today. He also said it
would treat law-abiding gun owners like criminals, and is in
conflict with Second Amendment rights upheld by the courts.
"I've never seen a piece of legislation that tramples on so many
court decisions," Vandermyde said.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Antonio "Tony" Munoz, disagreed.
"For everyone that says that we're taking away their rights, well
then go to the range," the Chicago Democrat told members of the
Senate Public Health Committee.
The second proposal would limit ammunition magazines and other
"ammunition feeding devices" to 10 or fewer rounds. A similar
measure received Senate approval in 2007, but the bill's sponsor,
Sen. Dan Kotowski, downplayed the idea that a separate effort on
shells stood a better chance of passage than the ban on weapons.
"The reason why I'm focusing on that is because (high) magazine
capacity has led to the increased lethality and the dangers
associated with automatic weapons," the Park Ridge Democrat said.
Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, called for an assault-weapons ban in
August after a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater. But he
took the approach -- highly unpopular with legislators -- of
rewriting a fairly innocuous bill covering ammunition purchases,
substituting language on semiautomatic weapons.
That failed when the General Assembly voted to override his
amendatory veto, but mostly because lawmakers thought Quinn had
overstepped his authority.