Change the State Gun Laws in Illinois
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Since Sandy Hook in 2012, more than 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings. Locally in Illinois, thousands of people die from gun related incidents each year. It is time for change to finally be done about this, we cannot wait until a school shooting happens too close to home. Change starts small, the only way to get change on a national level is to first start with change on the local, state level. Here are the following changes I suggest to be added to the laws here in Illinois:
- Change the law for minors buying guns: According the NRA official website, the law to buy a gun Illinois states that you have to be 21, BUT this can be bypassed with a written letter of consent from a parent/guardian. As students and parents of students, we all know how easy it can be to forge a signature. I propose the law be changed to not allow ANY person under the age of 21 to be able to buy a gun. If they aren't old enough to drink, why should they be old enough to buy and handle a gun?
- Change how the laws pertain to those with mental illness: The law within Illinois also states that you cannot have been a patient to a mental facility within the past 5 years and that you cannot be "adjudicated" as a mentally disabled person. In other words, the state and the law have to recognize you as suffering from mental illness. This leaves those who do not seek help for their mental illness to be able to buy a gun, because in the eyes of the state- they aren't a problem. There are people with mental illness that have intent to harm people but stay quiet about it, what is the state doing to stop them from getting their hands on firearms? Why place the weapon into the hands of a potential killer? Within the requirements for the Firearms Owner’s Identification Card (FOID), the card necessary to buy and own a firearm within the state of Illinois, there is no mention of a specific background check on mental health so I am proposing one be added. Intensive interviews and background checks should be made with the potential owner to make sure that they are going to be responsible and want the gun for a "good reason," a process similar to what is done in the U.K. (UK gun laws can be explained here: http://www.bbc.com/news/10220974)
- Make assault rifles harder to obtain, or better yet- ban them altogether: The NRA states that machine guns, or guns that fire more than one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, are illegal to buy in Illinois. However, this not include the AR-15, the assault rifle used in mass shootings and the gun used in the Parkland shooting as well as the Sandy Hook shooting. The AR-15 is a civilian style assault rifle than be comparable to those used by the military. While it does only shoot one bullet per trigger pull, it fires at an extremely high velocity that can pulverize organs and is built to experience little to no recoil which allows the user to fire more bullets in a smaller amount of time. (Dr. Ernest E. Moore, a trauma surgeon, touches more on why the AR-15 is a gun made strictly to kill in this article: https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/parkland-shooter...) Civilians should not be able to buy guns like the AR-15, there is no reason for anyone to own a gun that is capable of doing that much damage and that makes killings that easy. Illinois should move in the right direction and ban assault rifles.
Moving away from the requirements for actually buying the gun, there are laws that should also be changed once a gun is in a person's possession.
- Re-propose the park ban: Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court (or High Court) called a law that banned the use of guns around public parks, "unconstitutional." Except, most summers there are multiple shootings within the city of Chicago, and most likely elsewhere in the State, that happen in or around public parks. Parks are where children play and families gather to have fun, they don't need to worry about being shot. Not having a law that bans the use of firearms around these parks is just begging for an accident to happen. The park ban must be reintroduced and must be pushed to be passed.
- Re-think concealed carry requirements: Rethinking concealed carry will help to decrease the number of gun related deaths due to handguns. Illinois allows gun owners to apply for a concealed carry license after they have completed 16 hours of training. This then allows for the person to be able to carry their gun hidden away from public, but is that amount of training enough? Just recently, a gun went off at a Hyatt Hotel in Chicago after falling from a man's pocket , injuring three people. It can be assumed that since this men held the gun in his pocket that he had completed the required training to have his concealed carry permit. However, he did not have the proper training to prevent this from happening, he did not know how to handle the gun properly. While it is unknown whether or not this man is from Illinois and got his permit from Illinois or even if he has a permit, requiring more safety training for concealed carry licenses will prevent further accidents like this from happening.
These changes are easy. They won't take away the right to own a gun from anyone that is responsible and knows how and where to use it correctly, but they will be a start in the right direction to make sure guns won't fall into the hands of the wrong person. Is there more we can do? Yes. Is it likely to happen? That is up to you, the public, and the lawmakers to decide. Do I think it can happen? Yes, if we all work together. We, as a state and a country must prevent shootings like Parkland from ever happening again. #NeverAgain.
Every time a person signs, an email is sent to Dan McConchie, David McSweeney, Bruce Rauner, Tammy Duckworth, Dick Durbin and the Illinois General Assembly as a whole.
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