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State Rep. David McSweeney files two bills to curb gun violence

Legislation follows wave of gun protests throughout U.S.

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said lawmakers need to work toward increased punishment and restrictions for criminals who try to use guns to commit more crime.
State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said lawmakers need to work toward increased punishment and restrictions for criminals who try to use guns to commit more crime.

State Rep. David McSweeney has filed two new bills tied to gun violence.

House Bill 5849 aims to give law enforcement a mechanism to pursue people deemed a danger to themselves and others, and House Bill 5847 establishes that murder committed as a result of the intentional discharge of a firearm is an aggravating factor in first degree murder sentencing.

“There is a line we can walk between common sense gun safety, regulatory measures, and respect for the U.S. Constitution,” the Barrington Hills Republican said in a statement. “Instead of enacting broad legislation that adversely affects responsible gun owners, we need to focus on the individuals who are committing heinous crimes."

The legislation follows a wave of protests historians have called the largest of its kind in American history – a moment defined by tens of thousands of students walking out of their classrooms to demand action on gun violence and school safety.

Since the Feb. 14 massacre at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people, demonstrations have extended from Woodstock in McHenry County to Maine to Hawaii as students joined the youth-led surge of activism.

The movement has also sparked debate between Republican state lawmakers from McHenry County. The group was split on Feb. 28, when the Democratic-majority Illinois House endorsed new gun control measures.

The House voted to prohibit the sale of bump stocks and “trigger cranks,” which increase rifles’ firing rates, effectively making them assault-style weapons. The ban on bump stocks failed last fall, but on Feb. 28, more than a dozen Republicans joined Democrats to pass the bill.

"We need to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to help prevent potentially dangerous individuals from the unnecessary risk of harm to themselves or others with a firearm," McSweeney said. "We can do that while maintaining a respect for an individual’s Second Amendment rights and that is exactly what my legislation does.”

House Bill 5849 allows a circuit court to issue a warrant to search for and seize a firearm in the possession of a person who is deemed a danger to themselves or to others under certain conditions.

The bill would require a law enforcement to provide the court an affidavit about why seizing the firearm is necessary, and the affidavit must specifically describe the location of the firearm. The circuit court then must determine there is probable cause to believe that the person poses a clear and present danger to themselves or to others and is in possession of a firearm.

The legislation requires the court to have a hearing within 14 days of receiving a complaint. The hearing will determine if the firearm should be returned to the person or retained by the law enforcement.

McSweeney also filed House Bill 5847 to establish murder committed as a result of the intentional discharge of a firearm as an aggravating factor in sentencing for first degree murder. 

"The answer to Illinois' gun violence is not to take away Second Amendment rights from law-abiding residents, but to enhance the penalties on those who willfully and shamefully use guns to commit crimes," McSweeney said.

HB 5849 and HB 5847 await assignment to a legislative committee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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