Madigan shoots for ban

By Dave Gomez

The 10-year federal ban on assault weapons that expired in September may be replaced by one in Illinois.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged the Illinois General Assembly last month to pass a state version of the ban. The legislature has not scheduled any action on the proposed measure.

The nationwide ban prohibited the manufacture of semi-automatic firearms – excluding police or military weapons – with certain features and detachable magazines and ammunition clips holding 10 rounds or more of ammunition.

Some members of Congress voted to extend the ban earlier this year, but failed to get the required number of votes to extend the ban.

“Washington has turned its back on protecting law enforcement and our communities,” Madigan said. “Illinois should not put its law enforcement officers at risk one more day.”

The proposed Illinois ban would mirror the federal ban, said Melissa Merz, Madigan’s press secretary.

“It just takes us back to where we were,” Merz said.

Merz attributed the failure of the nationwide ban’s renewal to lobbyists from groups such as the National Rifle Association.

“I think that the special interests were too powerful,” Merz said.

Merz dismissed claims that the ban prohibited the use of hunting firearms.

“This is not about taking away guns or rifles [that] they use when they’re hunting,” Merz said. “These are weapons used to kill humans quickly and efficiently.”

Instead, the ban is designed to prevent criminals from amassing overwhelming firepower, Merz said.

“We’re just trying to make sure law enforcement isn’t outgunned.”

The proposed ban’s opponents say its nationwide predecessor failed to make an impact on crime and instead made it more difficult for law-abiding gun owners to buy guns.

“There was a lot of belief that it would cause crime to fall, but it never came through,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.

The definition of an assault weapon has been changed to include semi-automatic firearms that resemble assault weapons, Pearson said.

Pearson likened the definition to plastering stickers on a six-cylinder Camaro and calling it a NASCAR racer.

“The anti-gun movement in the United States has failed because they haven’t shown that gun control is crime control,” Pearson said.

Pearson said Madigan’s claim that assault firearms were the “weapon of choice” for criminals was “absolutely false.”

“The weapon of choice is a club, a knife and a fist,” Pearson said.