Petition seeks to sway Hultgren on weapons ban

Geneva resident John Rice signed an online petition to U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, asking him to support an assault weapons ban and universal background checks.

“The whole goal is to get back to some of the common sense regulations that were put in place,” Rice said. “Like having an assault weapons ban so some of these dangerous weapons – guns designed for military use, military-grade weaponry – are not in circulation. Also, the idea of closing the loopholes for gun shows.”

Jess Chipkin, 59, of Huntley said she started the online petition Dec. 27 after the shooting of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The shooting was done with an assault-style weapon. Chipkin said Hultgren’s staff has her scheduled to meet with the congressman March 25. She hopes to bring him at least 1,000 signatures. So far, the petition has collected 263.

“Let’s start a dialogue,” Chipkin said. “This is an issue that is really important to people. The purpose of the petition is to make sure Hultgren represents us and not the NRA in upcoming votes on new gun safety regulations.”

Rice, a former member of the National Rifle Association, said he does not want to take people’s guns away.

“I grew up pheasant hunting and rabbit hunting,” Rice said. “On my 14th birthday, me and my twin brother got 20-gauge shotguns. I was a member of the [National Rifle Association]. It was part of the deal; we went through the gun-safety program.”

Chipkin said Hultgren’s website, www.hultgren.house.gov, has lacked information about gun control since the Sandy Hook shooting prompted discussion of new gun-control measures. Hultgren’s website does not list guns or gun control among 11 categories of issues. The list does include agriculture, education, family values and health care.

According to the conservative “Illinois Review” edition of Jan. 27, 2010, the NRA Political Victory Fund endorsed Hultgren in the 2010 primary for the 14th Congressional District.

Hultgren’s staff did not return an email seeking comment.

The NRA has taken a stand against restrictions on gun ownership, according to its website.

Others who signed Chipkin’s petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/petition-for-restriction-of-weapon-ownership, include Jean Pierce of Geneva. Pierce said she was opposed to assault rifles for average citizens.

“I don’t see any reason why an individual needs an assault weapon at home,” Pierce said. “It’s not for hunting, except for hunting people.”

Victoria Davidson-Bell of Geneva, who also signed the petition, agreed.

“I think we need to make it harder to access those weapons,” Davidson-Bell said. “We can’t take them away, but we can go forward and ban assault weapons from being sold.”

Robert Brubaker of St. Charles signed the petition, adding that he grew up on a farm in Southern Illinois where his uncles had rifles for hunting.

“I can’t imagine that in wanting to hunt, you would need an assault rifle,” Brubaker said.

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