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West Central Illinois Lawmakers Vote Against Gun Restrictions


State representatives in Illinois passed several gun control measures this week, a couple of them with bipartisan support. The move comes as a national debate is unfolding following the February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The Illinois House approved measures to ban bump stocks, increase the age requirement to purchase an assault weapon to 21, and require a 72-hour waiting period before an assault weapon purchase can be complete. Lawmakers also signed off on a Senate bill for state licensing of gun dealers.

Representatives Norine Hammond (R-Macomb), Randy Freese (R-Paloma), and Dan Swanson (R-Alpha) each voted against all four measures.

Hammond told Tri States Public Radio she doesn’t consider this a state issue. She said any restrictions or regulations should be done at the federal level to avoid confusion.

“To do this on a piecemeal basis from one state to the next, skipping this state and including the next one… is absolutely flawed,” Hammond said.

She also said that ultimately her votes were based on the number of calls and emails her offices in Macomb and Springfield received. “I had hundreds of calls opposing these bills and I had three calls in support. Overwhelmingly my district did not support these bills.” Hammond said.

Hammond would not say whether she would support banning bump stocks or increasing the age requirement to buy assault weapons, calling them complex issues. But Hammond did criticize the lack of legislation to address funding for mental health services; she wants additional money for schools to hire counselors and psychiatrists.

“For many of the schools I represent, they can’t afford that,” she said.

“We have a growing population of individuals that are in desperate need of mental health services, not just those that are involved in gun crimes, but violence in general in bullying and the suicide rates throughout the country. We have to take our heads out of the sand and realize we need to provide the services. It’s going to take money, but we have to provide the services for these people and give them an avenue, for all intents and purposes, to save their lives.”

The gun control measures passed by the Illinois House still need approval from the Senate before being sent to the Governor’s desk. Hammond questioned the constitutionality of some of the measures and said she is interested to see how Governor Bruce Rauner will respond if the legislation reaches his desk.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.