The Illinois House today tried — and failed — to ban the gun modification known as a “bump stock.” The law was proposed as a response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Bump stocks use a semiautomatic rifle’s recoil to make it fire more like a fully-automatic weapon. The devices can make semiautomatic rifle fire almost as quickly as machine guns.
The Las Vegas gunman used several bump stocks to maximize casualties among country music fans attending a festival.
Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, says the gunman also had booked a hotel room in Chicago this summer, overlooking the Lollapalooza music festival.
“We all know someone who’s attended Lollapalooza,” he said. “We all know someone who’s going to be there next summer. The question is: What will it take for us to do action?"
Some Republicans say they can agree to banning the devices, but Democrats added other prohibitions to the legislation — like banning all trigger modifications that increase a gun’s rate of fire.
Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, says that could outlaw many popular modifications. “That would mean that we are making many of our own constituents felons," he said.
Ultimately, even a significant number of Democrats jumped off the legislation. The bill was soundly defeated, with only 48 voting ‘yes’ to 54 ‘no’ —23 votes shy of the super-majority needed to pass.
The bump stock bill wasn’t the only piece of gun-related legislation before Illinois lawmakers. The Gun Dealer Licensing Act (SB 1657) was approved by the state Senate last spring and is awaiting action by the House. It would require background checks and training for gun dealers and their employees and video security in every gun shop. It would also allow inspections by state police and the Department of Financial and Professional regulation.
Mark Jones, a retired ATF agent and project director for the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, says the federal government is incapable of regulating firearms dealers as required by law because it doesn’t invest in the people needed to inspect so many businesses. Jones said, “I say that because the ATF has been basically held flat by Congress in the budget and personnel levels since about 1972, when you control for inflation.”
Opponents of the bill say it puts an undue burden on small businesses.
Jones, who’s based in Chicago, supports the legislation and was in Rockford Thursday to speak to Mayor Tom McNamara about it. He also spoke at a forum for the group People for a Safer Society.
Jones says there are still a lot of changes he wants to see at the national level, too, such as universal background checks, ammunition limits, and more regulation of semi-automatic weapons. “I would like to see the militarization of police be able to come to an end because the militarization of the civilian armament population has been reduced.” He was also critical of the relationship between the National Rifle Association and state and federal lawmakers.
Brian Mackey and Susan Stephens contributed to this report.