Republican lawmakers criticize proposed Illinois gun control measures

(The Center Square) – Republican lawmakers are pushing back against a proposed measure at the Illinois statehouse that would outlaw the sale of certain semi-automatic firearms and magazines and attempt to stop anyone under 21 from legally buying a gun.

House Bill 5855, filed by state Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, aims to prohibit individuals from purchasing semi-automatic weapons in Illinois. It also increases the length of restraining orders and sets age restrictions for applying for a Firearm Owner’s Identification card.

The measure would also ban the manufacturing, delivering, selling, purchasing, and possessing of any magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds. Anyone with a magazine over 10 rounds would be committing a felony if the measure passes and is signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.  

The proposed measure has received pushback from downstate Republicans, including state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, who was the GOP nominee for governor in the November general election. Bailey said more legislation like this could be coming. 

“Friends, this is not going to stop with just this. This is going to continue and go way past firearms,” Bailey said. “It is going to continue until they hamper and limit the freedoms we have here.” 

State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Tuetopolis, said the measure directly violates Illinoisans’ constitutional rights. 

“It is a complete infringement of our Second Amendment rights here in the state of Illinois,” Niemerg said. “When you look at the FOID card being eliminated for someone under the age of 21, the violation of the Second Amendment for a 20-year-old who wants to sit in a tree stand.” 

State Rep. Charles Meier, R-Highland, explained that this measure would have an impact on the everyday life of Southern Illinois residents, claiming HB5855 could take opportunities away from high school age residents. 

“I have kids down here who have full scholarships, $25,000 a year,” Meier said. “My local bank loaned one of these kids $7,500 to buy his gun so he can go to shooting competitions and earn a scholarship to college. That would change with this law.” 

The measure would ban around 100 semi-automatic weapons such as AR-15s in Illinois.

Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, spoke at a memorial for the 10th anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. He criticized the gun industry for weapons meant for kids.

“Many gun manufacturers and sellers have launched aggressive marketing campaigns for their deadly guns,” Durbin said. “AR-15s and AR-style weapons have become the weapon of choice for mass shootings. This is an ad for a JR-15, a junior model of the AR-15, 20% smaller and lighter. It’s designed for children, children under the age of 18.”

Durbin finished with a vote of support for Morgan’s measure.

“I support banning these military-style assault weapons from civilian use. We banned them before, and I voted for that. It saved lives. It is time to ban them again,” Durbin said. 

Morgan’s bill for Illinois will be heard before an Illinois House committee Thursday. 

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