In the waning hours of the 102nd General Assembly, Senate and House Democrats that have refused to consider penalty enhancements for violent gun offenders approved an assault weapon ban. Upon the passage of the bill, State Senator Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles) issued the following statement:
“I believe violent crime prevention must be addressed at every angle, not the least of these is putting stronger penalties in place for those who would break the law by continually and without concern of consequences, continue to commit violent crimes with guns. Democrats have shown time and time again that they are unwilling to consider any kind of penalty enhancement for these kinds of gun violence criminals.
“Alternatively, in recent years the Legislature has enacted gun dealer licensing requirements, a strong firearms restraining order law that helps keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them, and “Fix the FOID” legislation to strengthen our gun owner approvals. And regrettably, measures proposed to strengthen these restrictions were eliminated from the recently passed legislation.
“I am a member of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). Late last year, after the Highland Park shooting, I worked collaboratively with the Illinois State Police to strengthen our state’s red flag statute rules, so a loophole that allowed the Highland Park shooter to legally purchase a gun was closed. This change will do more to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands, than ANY aspect of the new assault weapons legislation.
“I take the issue of gun violence and public safety very seriously and will continue to sponsor and support legislation that I believe addresses the root causes of gun violence. But I will not support efforts that attempt to punish law-abiding gun owners who use their firearms responsibly. This bill is feckless in attempting to address gun violence in our state.”