Posted: 03/12/2009

Capitol Commentary
by Todd Vandermyde
March 1, 2009


Things have begun to heat up at the capitol. We have several right to carry bills in the House and another in the Senate. And we are tracking some 55 gun bills and another dozen or so hunting bills.

The gamut runs from wanting to ban lead sinkers for fishermen to semi-auto bans. One thing is for certain, there is a different air about Springfield this year.

With the Heller decision still fresh in the minds of people, and this being the first legislative session since it came out, it has taken its toll on the anti-gunners. Once avowed anti-gun legislators now find themselves having to face the question of how their proposal gets past a constitutional test. Even as we present bills they don't like, they are forced to carefully question the proposals and find new reasons to shore up old beliefs.

One representative proclaimed that she now supports the Second Amendment. But I'm not sure that her version would square with ours. And other legislators who voted anti-gun are having debates about what they can really do. Those that are intellectually honest with themselves are admitting they are handcuffed, the playing field has changed.

It appears that the anti-gunners are starting off by pinning all their hopes on HB-48 – a ban on the private transfer of handguns. Under this bill, all handgun transfers would be forced to go through an FFL, except for certain transfers to family members.

Once again the anti-gunners are trying to throw more red tape and bureaucracy just to make a lawful transfer. In committee they cited the 900 people who were stopped from buying a firearm, by the background check. Hmmm. . . with 1.2 million FOID cards, 900 denials means that is .0008% of FOID card holders. Less than 1/10th of 1% of all FOID card holders. There are years Chicago has had more murders than that number. But we digress.

You see, what they are proposing is already the law in Chicago. Chapter 8-20-170 of the Municipal Code of the City of Chicago says:

“ (a) No firearm may be sold or otherwise transferred within the City of Chicago except through a licensed weapons dealer as defined in Chapter 4-144 of the Municipal Code of the City of Chicago.”

Ever try to find a gun dealer in Chicago? Last time we looked there was one and all they do is police business. And we all know how well this little proposal has worked. I'll bet that every gangbanger, or criminal bent on making another score will stop they next time they want a handgun and take their partner in crime right to a gun dealer to effect the transfer.

But that is the land of make believe that the Sponsor and other gun grabbers live in. Pass another law, and “we'll help stop the crime”. But no sooner do they demand the passage of their silly little scheme, then they announce that it will not solve all the problems and demand yet another way to interfere with our rights.

HB-48 is one of the biggest threats we face this year in the House. Having been beaten back year after year, they are attempting to score a victory in light of last year's overwhelming defeat.

One bill that is getting a lot of attention through emails and the internet is HB-687 by Rep. Dunkin. This bill would require every person who has an FOID card to obtain a $1 million insurance policy for willful and negligent acts. Never mind that they don't sell insurance policies for willful acts. But this is just another attempt to regulate or tax our rights away.

It is very encouraging to note that so many of you have called your legislators and emailed us to express your opinions about this bill. But this is not the threat to our rights as HB-48 is. You are well represented in Springfield by a crew of dedicated lobbyists. This is a bill that while it gets your blood pressure up, is one that we have killed before and will kill again this year. Please turn your attention to your state reps. and HB-48.

Not only are we fighting anti-gun bills like HB-48 and a semi-auto ban, HB-165, We have bills that want to register every private firearm transfer in Illinois with the state police – HB-4243, remove your right to own a gun if you fail to report a lost or stolen firearm – HB-845. Just to name a few.

Amidst all the anti-gun bills we have a few of our own. In the house there are four right to carry bills. It seems that more than one person wants to be involved in this. Adding to the consternation of the gun hating anti-self defense crowd is the fact that the Illinois Sheriffs' Association has come out in support of right to carry. With this we now have a crack in that blue wall that has always opposed us.

Working with the sheriffs we think we will have a reasonable proposal to bring forward. We also see the benefits from the Heller decision where the court talked about the ‘the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”

Our impediment to passing right to carry has always been the fact that leadership in the general assembly has ruled we need a super majority. That difference of 11 votes from 60 to 71 makes all the difference in the world in trying to pass right to carry.

While the new makeup of the legislature is challenging, it is not a sure thing for the anti-gunners, even in the house where we lost a couple of good friends and supporters. While they pin their hopes to polls and media hype, the nervousness in their eyes betrays their fear. And as they try to grab whatever they can, they know that a second Supreme Court decision is in the works with the Chicago lawsuit.

During the debates over the legislation in committee, it became apparent just how powerful the Heller decision is. At the committee hearing on the right to carry bill, the best line of defense that the other side could muster, was it was a decision that only applies to the federal government. That was from a lawyer.
 
For those who have read my articles over the years, you know that I'm not a lawyer, but a bulldozer operator by trade. Becoming a lobbyist was more of an accident then by design. But like you, the founding fathers' words have been an inspiration. Not content with Cliff notes, I've taken the time to read numerous opinions of the court on guns and other constitutional principals. Through that and a healthy appetite for a good debate, it has allowed me to be your advocate.

Without reservation, we can say that it was fear we witnessed at those committee hearings. Listening to lawyers fail score a single mark against the Heller decision was remarkable. Listening to the most avowed anti-gunners have to mention it and the Supreme Court and stumble for words trying to denigrate our “enumerated constitutional right” was worth the price of admission.

Reciting what is becoming my favorite passage:

We know of no other enumerated constitutional right whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding “interest-balancing” approach. The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government—even the Third Branch of Government—the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon.”

They were speechless. They had no answer. And the mere mention of the Court's ruling rolled off their tongues dripping with disdain. The fact that this construction worker, arguing the words of the Court, is able to sit across the table and battle it out with lawyers from across the state, speaks to the power of the Heller decision. More than one anti-gunner has said they would much rather be arguing from where we stand, then where they are.

This is all well and good. But on any given day, a good number of legislators will use the constitution as a door mat. And on some days, a majority are willing to do so. Most of them come from Chicago where, their leader recently decried the federal government chasing down corruption inside city hall. Now that's the right approach; trample of the rights of citizens, and blame the prosecutors for taking down those that take bribes at City Hall.

But they will not prevail. As we have said more than once, what do the gun haters and anti-gunners do when they get together? Talk about the gun they didn't buy? With the run on firearms, it would seem there are few of them. The hunting trip they didn't take? The gun show they didn't go to? Or the match they didn't shoot?

No they get together and loathe us, our ideals and the fact that we roll up our sleeves and get it done. And for the next few weeks that's what we need you to do. Make the calls, visit your legislators, remind them how you feel and ask them two simple questions;

1. Are the criminals going to follow this law?

2. How does diminishing the rights of the law abiding gun owners make it safer?

Then come to IGOLD on March 11th and join your fellow gun owners in fighting for your rights at the state capitol.

After all, HB-48 is about trying to regulate a right out of existence. The Court gave us the tool to to stop it, we just have to use it. March 11th at the State Capitol is the time and place.