Column: Common sense gun laws

By Matt Simmons

Governor Blagojevich scored a huge victory over the National Rifle Association and their supporters from downstate Illinois last week when the Illinois House of Representatives fell short of overriding his veto of Senate Bill 2104. The bill would have given the power to regulate gun transportation to the state instead of municipalities. The veto serves as one of several common-sense gun control initiatives enacted by the governor that will improve our safety without threatening the right for law-abiding citizens to own guns.

Supporters of SB 2104 argued that gun owners are confused about transporting guns and that there should only be one statewide standard for gun transporting. Opponents claimed that municipalities should be allowed to regulate gun transporting, seeing as local officials know the needs of their communities better than Springfield does.

Urban areas such as Chicago have more restrictive laws for gun transportation. If the state government had been put in charge of such laws, it would have likely meant much looser regulations for these areas. The fact remains that people that are transporting guns in Chicago probably pose a greater nuisance to the public than people transporting guns in Mahomet. If people in Mahomet want to be able to drive around with pistols in their glove compartments, let them do it. But similar regulations would be foolish in Chicago. Local governments should be able to do what they need to do to protect their communities based on their circumstances and ways of life.

This past legislative session has been good for Blagojevich and his gun control allies. He vetoed two NRA-backed initiatives that would have destroyed the firearm purchase database and made it easier for some convicted criminals to own guns. He also vetoed a House bill that would have eliminated the waiting period for gun owners that trade firearms.

It is amazing to me that some of these bills even passed through the state assembly in the first place. It just goes to show the clout the NRA has. I realize that most gun owners are law-abiding citizens who pose no threat to public, but guns are very dangerous and can cause catastrophic damage if handled irresponsibly. The state keeps track of all automobile owners, most of whom are law-abiding citizens, through a database. There’s no reason why we should not have a similar system for gun owners.

Blagojevich has also been on the offensive in his fight for smarter gun laws. He signed Senate Bill 1333 that closed the so-called gun show loophole – which allowed purchase of firearms without a waiting period. He also touted bills calling for stricter penalties for crimes committed with guns, pushed for child safety locks and has called for research in “smart gun” technology that only allows the owner of the gun to fire it. Contrary to what the NRA and its state affiliates will tell you, none of these measures are meant to infringe on our constitutional right to bear arms.

The NRA claims to defend the 2nd Amendment and that liberals are steadily chipping away at gun rights until they can do away with the 2nd Amendment. In reality, the NRA is an extremist branch of the Republican Party that has brainwashed hunters and gun collectors into thinking that liberals are on a crusade to take away their guns.

Blagojevich and other mainstream liberals do not support all attempts to restrict gun ownership. In fact, some liberals, such as myself, are actually open to ideas such as conceal and carry if it can be proven that such laws would not increase violent crime.

With the exception of assault weapons like UZIs and AK-47s, gun owners should not worry about anyone attempting to take away their guns or the right to own a gun.

But Blagojevich and the supporters of common sense regulations on firearms realize that we have a duty to vote in favor of law enforcement and safety over unrestricted gun ownership. Pro-gun activists must snap out of their paranoia and consider the well-being of their community when exercising their rights.

Matt Simmons is a senior in LAS. His column appears every Thursday. He can be reached at [email protected]