SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House on Tuesday voted in favor of bans on semi-automatic assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, although the proposals still face several legislative battles before they could become law.
The approved proposals were six amendments to a bill that House Speaker Michael Madigan left blank on purpose, and they were accepted in an unusual process that Madigan began using last week to allow legislators to debate at length on contentious topics. The House still must approve the full piece of legislation for it to move to the Senate, and none of the six votes taken Tuesday as lawmakers debated what would go into the measure had the same support as what is required for a bill to pass the House.
One of the amendments would make it a felony for anyone to sell, purchase or transfer a military-style assault weapon. Should the amendment become law, it would make it illegal for civilians to possess these types of weapons after a 300-day period following the measure’s enactment.
Chicago Democratic Rep. Edward Acevedo, who sponsored two of the amendments, said civilians shouldn’t own such weapons because they were designed for “mass destruction.”
Acevedo said the weapons include those that were used by the shooters in the massacres at a movie theater in Colorado and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last year.
But some Democrats and Republicans argued the state shouldn’t decide what guns people should be allowed to have to protect their families.
Rep. Frank Mautino, a Spring Valley Democrat, also argued that a “fatal flaw” in Acevedo’s assault-weapon possession proposal was that it does not address what current assault-weapon owners should do with their firearms.
Mautino said the bill “accidentally makes felons of tens of thousands of Illinois citizens” who already own a military-style weapon.
The amendments were approved with Democratic votes only. Republicans refused to cast votes. GOP Rep. Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst said Madigan’s procedure puts politics before public safety.
“Why do we continue to play these games of going amendment by amendment?” Reboletti said.
Republicans have strongly opposed Madigan’s new floor-debate style. He has also used his “weekly order of business” process to discuss concealed carry and pension proposals, and Republicans also refused to vote on pension amendments Thursday.
Tuesday’s amendments also called for forcing individuals who would be exempted from the ban, such as members of the armed forces and jail wardens, to store their guns with a locking device that renders them inoperable or under a key or combination lock.