February 28, 2013 – Springfield, Illinois - This past Tuesday, I sat in the Illinois House Chamber and two party caucuses for over 9 hours. Members were debating numerous amendments to a concealed carry bill that had not even passed through a judiciary committee. The bill was HB 1155. This piece of legislation was allowed on the floor through a privilege the House Speaker has called “The Order of the Day.”
At first, I simply considered this a bad bill aimed at restricting Second Amendment rights in Illinois so severely that concealed carry would only exist in theory.
I committed to voting against this bill on principle. On the surface, it appeared to be a rushed effort to advance Illinois Democrat’s agenda. In addition to being overly restrictive, there had been virtually no time for legislators to review the bill.
As each amendment was debated, however, the sinister truth about the bill began to reveal itself.
The truth is, as Rich Miller stated in Capitol Fax, “the amendments put suburban Republicans in a trick bag. Voting against a ban on carrying guns in or near schools (or childcare facilities, government buildings, hospitals, etc.) no matter how overly restrictive the amendment was drafted, will definitely not look good in a campaign mail attack. The mailers basically write themselves.”
A bi-partisan gun-control bill had already been introduced that was far more measured and judicious. That bill is HB 997 “The Family and Personal Protection Act.” Under HB 997, a clear path toward concealed carry is established for law-abiding citizens, while also ensuring proper safe-guards, training requirements and mental health protections. Additionally, HB 997 provides substantial and clearly-defined protections for schools, childcare facilities, government buildings, casinos, hospitals, libraries, mass transit vehicles, sports stadiums and amusement parks.
What House Democrats did, under the direction of House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), was simply take these protections and distort them by adding imprecise language, such as “near, owned by or controlled by…” ; then tacked them together to form an incoherent, meandering bill, in which pieces of legislation do not properly fit together. The amendments, as they are written, create excessive uncertainty for gun-owners as well as those charged with enforcing the law. House Democrats knew that no pro-liberty Republican would vote for these illegitimate regulations. Speaker Madigan, with stunningly tyrannical calculation, effectively composed Democrat campaign pieces from the House Chamber.
The most reprehensible part of all is that Illinois’ tax-payers are desperate for strong, redemptive legislation on pensions, jobs, state debt, healthcare and education. What they got yesterday was a vile demonstration of power from Speaker Madigan, as he coerced the House of Representatives into spending over 9 hours debating bad amendments to a shell bill.
This was a political game and every single tax-payer in the State of Illinois, regardless of their political beliefs, should be outraged. Every 2 years, new legislators are sent to the State House by the voters of Illinois only to have their arms twisted and be held hostage by a man who has amassed enormous power over the past 30 years. And, look what has happened to our state in those 30 years.
Yes, it’s business as usual in Illinois. The question is how much more damage needs to be done before we stop accepting “business as usual?” How many more jobs do we need to lose? How many more times should our credit be downgraded? How many more businesses need to close? How much more debt do we need to rack up? How many more political games have to be played on tax-payer time before we insist on something better? How much more waste and corruption do we have to endure before we demand revolution?
I want to know because at the end of a long legislative day, not only are NONE of our most critical problems solved, but Illinois remains the only state in the nation without any form of concealed carry for the law-abiding public. And we are all paying for it.