CHICAGO (CBS) — Busloads of people were getting ready Tuesday night to head to the Illinois State Capitol this week.
They want to urge lawmakers to take action on a bill that would ban semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines. But those fighting against that bill are already promising legal action.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, this is the latest version of a bill that went nowhere for years. Another bill banning so-called assault-style weapons languished in the Rules Committee for a year.
But the Highland Park July 4th parade massacre renewed a push to pass the law. And now, hundreds of doctors from hospitals, including Northwestern Memorial Hospital, are involved in the fight.
“We don’t want to see this anymore,” said Dr. Selwyn Rogers.
dr Rogers is the leading trauma surgeon at the University of Chicago Medical Center emergency room. He is one of more than 300 Chicago area doctors who have signed a letter urging state lawmakers to pass the Protect Illinois Communities Act.
The proposed law would, in part, ban so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines – and raise the minimum age to obtain a Firearm Owners Identification Card from 18 to 21.
“I think the fact that physicians are actually willing to sign this letter is a strong testament to the fact that we’ve had enough as physicians,” Rogers said.
The letter is time sensitive. That is because lawmakers will be in Springfield for a lame duck session – a last-minute push to pass legislation before outgoing lawmakers leave office and newly-elected ones are sworn in.
“The answer is not legislation,” said gun store owner and Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois President Dan Eldridge. “I have spoken with leadership on both the House and the Senate side, and simply said: ‘No, we’re not going to help you build a better mousetrap here. Here’s why you can’t do this, and we’ll litigate it.”
Lawmakers introduced a similar bill a year ago. It languished, with no action, until December – when sponsors proposed the latest version after the statewide election.
There have been hearings, but there is still no guarantee the bill will go anywhere – despite a Democratic majority, and despite the Highland Park shooting.
“This is just a base appeal to the emotional horror after a mass shooting, and it’s a grotesque politicization of a tragedy,” Eldridge said.
“This is American exceptionalism around gun ownership, and the inability o create policies to make our world safer,” said Rogers.
Rallies are planned for Thursday, with buses leaving from around the state. But lawmakers with whom Kozlov spoke Tuesday are not sure what will happen this week.
They are caucusing on Wednesday when it may be decided if the bill will be put to a vote – or not.
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