Governor Blagojevich (D), with the support of anti-gun Chicago Mayor Daley (D) and extremist gun-ban organizations, continues his assault on our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. The anti-gun Blagojevich-Daley duo are promoting passage of HB 2414, a gun ban bill that failed to pass last year in spite of several amendments that were little more than weak attempts to gain support by pretending to water down the bill.
On Wednesday, during his State of the State Address to the Illinois General Assembly, Blagojevich renewed his call for HB 2414's ban on many semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, as well as .50 caliber rifles, all of which are widely owned by law-abiding citizens. The governor claimed, "No law-abiding citizen needs (the firearms affected by the ban) to be safe or to hunt." But such a statement intentionally ignores the fact that many of the firearms Blagojevich would like to ban are commonly used for protection from violent criminals, and are both legal and regularly used for hunting. The day before he spoke to the General Assembly, Blagojevich joined with Daley, who has advocated banning all firearms from law-abiding civilians, in a joint news conference to launch their anti-gun assault. Among the firearms targeted by the governor and the mayor are .50 caliber rifles—large, expensive firearms prized by collectors and competitive shooters that are rarely, if ever, used in violent crimes. Nonetheless, Blagojevich implied the only reasons a law-abiding citizen would choose to own one would be to "act as a terrorist and be a criminal and a gangbanger." This attack on gun owners could be because the governor is faced with dismally low approval ratings and a tough bid for reelection in the Fall. He has apparently decided that declaring open season on all law-abiding gun owners will somehow help with his campaign.
In contrast, during his campaign for governor in 2002, Blagojevich tried to win over gun owners by pledging, "We will not raise (the cost of) the FOID card." He failed to tell those same gun owners he would work to ban firearms, making FOID cards irrelevant. And speaking of FOID cards, the governor has recently been at the center of a controversy regarding their renewal process. Blagojevich has induced staff cuts at the Illinois State Police, which has led to serious delays in the processing of FOID card renewals. What this means is, through no fault of their own, law-abiding gun owners in Illinois who apply for the renewal of their FOID card run the risk of becoming de facto criminals due to bureaucratic bungling should their card expire while waiting for its renewal. A process that should take no more than 30 days is now taking up to 50 days, if not more.
An unsympathetic spokesman for the state police told the Bloomington, Ill. Pantagraph that FOID card holders whose cards expire while awaiting renewal "are technically in violation at that point." He went on to say that anyone to whom this happens is at the mercy of any police officer who finds someone in "violation." The spokesperson stated, "Just like when you are speeding, it’s one of those situations that you are in violation (of the law)." "But," he continued, "the officer has the right (sic) to decide exactly what action he’s going to take at that point." There are two major problems with such a statement, however. First, police officers have powers and authority, not "rights," to enforce laws. Second, when you are speeding, your actions are what led to violating a law, while the state police created the problem with the FOID card. Based on the FOID card problem he helped create, and his efforts to ban guns in Illinois, Governor Blagojevich seems to have decided he does not need a single gun owner to vote for him in order to win reelection. Perhaps he expects members of the General Assembly to hold the same position by supporting his ban.
Please contact your legislators at (217) 782-2000, to let them know their vote on HB 2414 will be remembered come Election Day in November. A vote on this bill could take place in the House of Representatives any day, so it is critical that Representatives hear from the pro-gun community immediately. Tell them to oppose any efforts to ban lawful firearms in Illinois, and to vote against HB 2414. Be sure to let their colleagues in the Senate know your feelings, as well.