After Newtown, Illinois faces new gun control challenges
Pistols for sale at Rinks Gun and Sport in suburban Chicago. An appeals court has ordered that Illinois loosen its gun control laws at a time when many states are trying to tighten them.
December 19th, 2012
02:33 PM ET

After Newtown, Illinois faces new gun control challenges

By Nova Safo, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

Chicago, Illinois (CNN) –  Just days before the Newtown shooting, a federal appeals court struck down the last remaining state-wide ban on carrying concealed weapons. The ban in Illinois violated a 2008 Supreme Court decision, the federal appeals court said, which affirmed the right to have a gun for self defense.

In striking down the law, the appeals court ordered lawmakers to rewrite law to allow for concealed carry. Barbara Flynn Currie, the Democratic majority leader in the Illinois State House, is feeling the pressure to find a solution fast.

[1:00] “At the end of six moths, if there’s nothing there, I don’t know how you interpret this opinion than to say that people then don’t have to get permits, don’t have to worry about concealing, they can just wander.”

This is not the conversation Currie wants to be having after Newtown.

In fact, lawmakers in Illinois have been talking about tougher gun control – everything from requiring reporting of lost guns to a ban on assault weapons. That has put gun ownership proponents in the state on the defensive, including Richard Pearson, the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. While Pearson does not want to see tougher laws, he does see room for change.

[2:08] “We need to make sure that the people who have bad backgrounds and mental health issues, don’t get firearms. We’re working toward that. And I think that’s where the discussion needs to go. And I think we need to look at placing guards in schools. To think that because it’s a gun-free zone, that somebody is going to do anything bad there, is just nuts.”

Pearson believes the problems with gun violence have to do with the lack of proper mental health resources, as well as a culture of violence. But David Hemenway, one of the leading researchers of gun violence, says culture has little to do with it. Hemenway is the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and author of the book, “Private Guns Public Health.” He has compared the U.S. to other countries with fewer shooting deaths, and found access to guns to be the only major difference.

[3:53] “It doesn’t look like our children are more aggressive or more depressed. It doesn’t look like there’s more bullying in our schools. It doesn’t look like for adults there’s more actual crime or actual violence, except when it deals with guns. And what guns have done is make our crime and violence much more lethal than it needs to be.”

While waiting for a national solution, Illinois state legislators will soon find out whether the Newtown tragedy has changed the political winds here. When they reconvene in January, State House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie said she is hoping for an assault weapons ban.

[6:04] “I’m hopeful that people who are kind of rethinking their positions because of the senselessness and the horror of this tragedy, perhaps they will come around to thinking that these items which were meant to be military weapons do not in fact belong in the hands of ordinary citizens. They’re no good for shooting dear.”


Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. And listen to CNN Soundwaves on our SoundCloud page.

Posted by ,
Filed under: Justice • Politics • Stories
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Shawn

    I am a sensible gun owner that enjoys the sport of shooting all types of weapons. They are all secure in a gun safe within my house and I hold the key. Firing assault style weapons is fun but its not a hobby for just anyone. Just like driving/riding a sports car or bike is fun, but if your not a car or motorcycle person then you probably wouldn't understand it either. Guns were designed to shoot, what the individual decides to shoot is what is on trial here. Cars and motorcycles are designed to drive, how and where the individual decides to do this is what should be on trial. Why make guns that you believe only law enforcement and military should have available to civilians? Well why make vehicles that go over 90mph available to civilians when every sensible person knows they should only be available to law enforcement and first responders.

    December 20, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  2. Robert

    The design of handguns and assault rifles, when used correctly as the constructor envisioned, is to kill people quickly and efficiently. There is no other intention. If the US Constitution says everyone has a right to own these weapons, without discrimination, then the constitution is wrong.
    If the 6 year olds had been armed with weapons, they would have been able to exercise their constitutional right to self protection, as the gun lobby might argue. But any rational person would see a problem with arming 6 year olds, and for that matter many American adults, who do not meet rational qualifications for gun ownership.
    The mother of the maniac provided access to two handguns and an m16 like assault rifle, knowing full well her son was unstable, she paid for her bad karma, but so did 20 children and their families. What is the ultimate karmic debt of America for playing with its ongoing death obsession and will the horror ever end?

    December 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |