Legislation to ban “bump stocks” and other devices that allow guns to fire more rapidly was rejected by the Illinois House on Thursday, as opponents on both sides of the aisle contended the measure was too broad and would turn legal gun owners into criminals.
State Rep. Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines, said the measure was designed in response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, where the gunman used bump stocks to increase the rate of fire on his semi-automatic rifles.
“Today, we are taking the first step towards better protecting our loved ones and preventing this horrific violence from happening in Illinois,” Moylan said.
But opponents, including Rep. Jerry Costello, a Democrat from downstate Smithton, called the bill too far-reaching because it would ban any modification that accelerates the rate of fire — such as changing a spring or replacing a trigger.
“I don’t view this as a bump stock ban, I view this as a ban on 40 to 50 percent of the guns in the state,” Costello said. His district includes the World Shooting Recreational Complex in Sparta.
He said the legislation would turn people who modify firearms to compete in shooting competitions into law breakers. The House rejected the proposal by a 48-54 vote.
Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, noted the Las Vegas shooter had booked a Chicago hotel room overlooking Lollapalooza, contending the “discussion would be completely different” had he opened fire in Chicago.
“We all know someone who attended Lollapalooza,” Welch said. “The question is: What will it take for us to take action? Will it take your mother, father, son or daughter to be shot before you will speak up?”
Changing gun laws typically is a tough sell in Illinois. The state is politically fractured along geographical lines, with city and some suburban lawmakers calling for tighter restrictions as those from downstate push back.
Detractors called for action on a competing bill backed by Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, that would only ban bump stocks, not other devices. That bill has the support of the Illinois State Rifle Association.
“The language in the actual bill matters,” said Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield. “If you want to address the issue, let’s address the issue in a thoughtful, bipartisan manner.”
Following the vote, Moylan said he was willing to consider narrowing the proposal to win more support but argued the bill pushed by Republicans did not go far enough.
“We’re not going to dilute it so it’s not effective,” he said.
Moylan’s bill also would require a Firearm Owners Identification Card in order to buy explosive components such as Tannerite, which is commonly used for target practice. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed legislation passed this year that put similar restrictions on Tannerite.
Moylan said Tannerite was found in the Las Vegas shooter’s car and contended that requiring a FOID card for purchase would allow it to be more easily tracked.