Gun rights with responsibilities

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By Ken Trainor, et al

A statement about consensus, and the lack thereof, by the Responsibilities Subcommittee of the recently disbanded GRRC:

Introduction

The Gun Rights and Responsibilities Committee (GRRC), which recently concluded its discussions, is a group of ordinary Oak Park citizens with an extraordinary interest in the issue of Second Amendment rights and its impact on gun violence and public safety.

The committee comprised people on both sides of a longstanding divide, usually characterized as rights vs. responsibilities. Our goal was to bridge that divide (i.e. rights with responsibilities).

For the sake of convenience, we referred to the two "subcommittees" as the "Rights side" and the "Responsibilities side." In so doing, we are not suggesting that the Rights side is indifferent to responsibilities or that the Responsibilities side is indifferent to rights. This was a good-faith effort on both sides to reach a common accord.

As expected, we encountered major disagreements. The nine Rights members believe more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens means less crime. The seven Responsibilities members believe more effective regulation of guns means less gun violence. 

The Rights side has a deep distrust of government and doubts that effective regulation can be legislated without infringing on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Their bedrock assumption is that the secret agenda of regulation involves taking away their guns. At the beginning of our sessions, they were calling us "gun-grabbers." At the end, they were still referring to us by that term, in spite of our sincere efforts to reassure them and convince them otherwise. 

The Responsibilities side has an equally deep distrust of the National Rifle Association's leadership and doubts they can be trusted to support reasonable regulation. That distrust applies only to the leadership, however, not to the membership — who, polls indicate, are more reasonable. 

We knew going in that consensus would be impossible unless a certain trust level was established.

After meeting approximately every three weeks from January through October, usually at the Oak Park Public Library, our comfort level increased. At meetings, members of both sides made a point of sitting next to members of the "opposing side" in order to avoid segregating. For the most part, we warmed up to one another and came to enjoy each other's company.

Unfortunately, the trust level didn't follow.

Our initial goal as a group was to see if we could even talk to one another in a respectful, civil manner. Thanks in part to the efforts of moderator John Troelstrup and the good intentions of all involved, that goal was, for the most part, accomplished.

But we also hoped to serve as a model for civic engagement on this difficult issue by reaching some consensus, and that was not successful for a variety of reasons.

I. Basis for consensus

Our hopes for consensus were based on the following principles:

1) With rights come responsibilities. Because firearms involve lethal force, those responsibilities are significant.

2) Though the right to own and carry a gun is the law of the land, protected by recent Supreme Court decisions, certain people should not have access to firearms (criminals and their straw purchasers, the dangerously mentally ill, and minors).

3) Access to firearms by those who shouldn't have them is currently too easy. This leads to an unacceptable level of gun violence nationwide.

4) The current system of gun regulation, combined with law enforcement efforts, is not effective enough at keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them and deterring those who misuse them.

5) We cannot solve this problem, but we believe the situation can be improved. With voluntary efforts by responsible gun owners and through reasonable legislation, we believe a better system can be devised that would make firearms less accessible to those who shouldn't have them and that will result in improved public safety.

6) Any improved system must respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners, should not impose excessively burdensome restrictions on them and cannot involve the development of a "national gun registry," a particularly sensitive issue for the Rights side.

7) If a system can be devised that limits access to guns by the wrong people and if that system doesn't obstruct law-abiding citizens from owning and bearing arms, then responsible gun owners should be willing, in the interest of overall public safety, to accept a reasonable amount of inconvenience in order to reduce crime and gun violence.

8) Gun owners are not the only ones who must accept responsibility. Law enforcement (police and the court system), aided by social service professionals, must do a better job identifying, preventing, intervening, and/or punishing those who use guns irresponsibly.

9) We affirm and defend the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms for legitimate self-defense purposes. We oppose any effort by the government to take away the legally purchased guns of law-abiding citizens.

10) If we approach this issue as allies instead of as adversaries, we stand a much better chance of making the kind of progress that people on both sides of this issue want — a safer society.

II. Measures to reach our goal 

Here the two sides differ. 

The Rights side favors greater efforts by law enforcement to crack down on criminals, especially gang members. Through swift, consistent punishment after the fact and identifying gang members before the fact, plus having more guns in the hands of law-abiding gun owners on the streets and in public institutions, they believe criminals will be deterred and violent crime will drop. They also favor stronger measures to identify and intervene with people who are dangerously mentally ill (i.e. those who are considered potentially dangerous to themselves or others).

The Responsibilities side in addition to these measures, supports the following preventive efforts:

A. An effective system of consistent, nationwide background checks on all gun purchases and transfers (including gun-show and online sales), conducted through federally licensed gun dealers, will help keep guns away from criminals and the dangerously mentally ill and enable law enforcement to track those who use them for unlawful purposes. 

B. A limit on the number of guns purchased per month will make it more difficult for straw buyers to supply criminals with an arsenal. 

C. Law-abiding gun owners should be encouraged to do more to secure and store their weapons at home because firearms used by criminals are frequently acquired by stealing them. Tax incentives might encourage firearm owners to take advantage of advancing technology in this regard (for example, guns that can only be fired by the owner). Some agreement was achieved on this issue during our discussions.

D. Limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds (except for law enforcement). The purpose is to slow down criminals and mass murderers, who would have to change clips more often, increasing the opportunity to stop them or to escape, thereby saving lives.

E. Both sides agree on the need for comprehensive, in-depth gun safety training for all who own guns. We also agree on the need for intensified law enforcement efforts — but with certain civil liberties safeguards. 

III. Concerns and concessions 

The language of any consensus statement needs to reflect the concerns of each side and acknowledge the concessions.

The Responsibilities side believes that because "assault weapons" are more lethal, they should be more regulated. The Rights side says it is too difficult to define an "assault weapon" and a ban is too difficult to enforce, especially in an era of modular components and 3D printers. 

Though the Responsibilities members favor a ban on assault weapons because we see no justifiable use for them by ordinary citizens — other than gun collectors and for sport at well-regulated firing ranges — we concluded that the two sides would not be able to reach agreement, so we made a major concession on this issue and removed it from our proposals. It should be noted, however, that Oak Park still has an assault weapons ban on its books, and the Responsibilities side supports that ban. 

The Responsibilities members support greater efforts on the part of law enforcement to crack down on criminals — as long as those efforts respect constitutional protections and don't lead to a police-state mentality, especially in the inner city. The John Burge torture cases provide a cautionary example of how law enforcement can go too far. 

The Responsibilities side also emphasizes that law enforcement measures alone cannot solve the problem of gun violence. Citizens must be willing to do their part and bear some of the responsibility.

The Responsibilities side made a sincere effort to hear the concerns of the Rights members and to reflect those concerns in this statement.

IV. The case for background checks 

Both sides are deeply concerned about guns in the hands of criminals, particularly gang members because they account for the largest percentage of gun violence casualties. Both sides are also concerned about guns in the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, who use them to commit mass murder in public spaces. 

Both concerns need to be addressed.

Law enforcement alone, however, cannot prevent all guns from getting to criminals and the dangerously mentally ill without creating a hard-core police state, which neither side wants. A police state, after all, would eventually infringe all our rights, including the Second Amendment.

Statistics show that violent crime overall has been dropping nationwide for 20 years (although still much higher than the rest of the developed world). Statistics also indicate that the number of mass-murder incidents has increased dramatically over the last 20 years. The Rights side believes the total number of fatalities from mass-murder shootings is "statistically insignificant" and therefore not worth our legislative efforts. We strongly disagree. The two sides also disagree on the main cause of declining crime rates. 

The Responsibilities side believes the best way to complement law enforcement efforts is an effective, consistent, nationwide screening mechanism — in other words, background checks — that identifies criminals and the dangerously mentally ill and prevents them from purchasing guns, or at least makes it more difficult for guns to be obtained by them.

Statistics from the Colorado Governor's Office so far, regarding the background-check program that went into effect in 2012 following the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., show promising results. In addition, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine last spring — conducted by Boston Children's Hospital, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence — shows that "states with the most firearm legislation have the lowest rate of firearm-associated deaths overall, as well as the lowest rates of firearm-associated suicides and homicides."

Background checks do work. They just need to be well-designed and well-implemented.

The Rights side says they don't want gun regulations that only affect the law-abiding, but laws set expectations for everyone — the law-abiding and non-law-abiding alike. That's how our legal system works. The law-abiding, even those who may not need such regulation, accept the inconvenience in order to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill. It is their contribution to the overall crime-fighting effort. It is also one of the best ways to demonstrate responsibility in return for the rights they enjoy.

Even if all citizens were armed, even if all schools and other public places were protected by armed security personnel, it would still be imperative to make guns less accessible to those who use them irresponsibly. 

An effective universal background check system, we believe, would improve this situation.

V. A call for greater responsibility  

At this point, the Gun Rights side has everything they want: 2nd Amendment rights protected by the Supreme Court and concealed-carry laws in all 50 states. The only thing they don't see is a strong enough effort by law enforcement to crack down on gangs and criminals who use guns, and the Responsibilities side also calls for a stronger effort (with constitutional safeguards).

The Responsibilities side, on the other hand, has only seen erosion of the protections we value: Handgun bans overturned and more guns on the street, thanks to concealed-carry laws. 

We are willing to support 2nd Amendment rights as long as the Rights side accepts the responsibilities that go with those rights. The logical place for that to occur is a system of universal background checks — presuming an effective one, with safeguards protecting gun owners' rights, can be devised. We believe it can.

Our impression, from what was said during our meetings, is that if a truly effective system — with safeguards — can be created, most members of the Rights side could live with it. But at this point they still don't believe such a system is possible and aren't willing to sign on.

The Responsibilities side has conceded the right to self-defense and gun ownership. We have conceded on the issue of assault weapons bans. We have stated that we oppose any effort by the government to take away the guns of law-abiding citizens. We have supported the call for stronger law enforcement efforts. 

Now we ask the Rights side to accept a universal background check system in principle, with the stipulation that it must be sensitive to their concerns and protect their rights.

VI. Summary

The Gun Responsibilities Subcommittee proposes five measures to improve the problem of easy access to guns in this country:

1) an effective, consistent, nationwide background check system for all firearm purchases and transfers through a federally licensed firearm dealer (no exceptions), plus a limit on the number of guns that can be purchased per month;

2) better storage of weapons in the home (and faster reporting if weapons are stolen);

3) improved, comprehensive gun-safety training for all gun owners;

4) limiting the manufacture, sale and possession of magazine capacities to 10 rounds (law enforcement exempted) in order to slow down mass murderers; and

5) stronger law enforcement efforts to crack down on gangs and intervene with those identified as dangerously mentally ill.

These are common-sense measures that, if properly implemented, would not infringe on the right to keep and bear arms but would improve the current problem of easy access to firearms by those who should not have them.

We invite all responsible, law-abiding gun owners to join us in this effort to make our society safer for the sake of the common good.

Postscript

Unfortunately, the Rights side was not willing to consider universal background checks — even though that is now Illinois law. In fact, once Illinois passed the court-mandated concealed-carry law, the Rights members no longer seemed to have any clear sense of why we were meeting, even though David Schweig, one of their members, was the person who pushed for the formation of the committee in the first place.

We had hoped that having secured their rights and getting everything they wanted would make them more flexible, generous and collaborative, but that was not the case. In our final meeting, in fact, they were dismissive, calling the arguments presented in this report, "a joke." Their attitude seemed best articulated by Ray Simpson, who, immediately afterward, wrote in a One View, published in these pages, that gun owners "just want to be left alone."

Unfortunately, no citizen or group of citizens is an island. We live in a highly interdependent society and everyone needs to pitch in if we want to make that society safer. Their unwillingness to do so is disappointing. 

Three members of the Rights side did indicate a willingness to consider the possibility of reforming the Illinois FOID card, which they admitted is a very weak system (and even if those weaknesses were corrected, it would not be effective because federal law does not require background checks for gun sales online and at gun shows nationwide. Someone from Illinois can drive an hour to Indiana to purchase guns).

To date, however, they have been unable to provide a specific proposal on how to reform the FOID card system. As a result, we concluded that our discussions have reached an end.

The members of the Responsibilities Subcommittee decided instead to publish our consensus statement — developed and refined over a period of many months — in the hope that it might advance the national conversation on this important subject.

Of course, it takes two to dialogue.

If the Gun Rights side of our committee wishes to submit a final report of their own, we would be happy to publish it.

We also invite readers to join in this ongoing conversation.

Members of the Responsibilities Subcommittee who contributed to this report are: John Barrett, Joyce Champelli, Ray Heise, Sandra Shimon, Paul Sakol, Judith Gaietto-Grace, Ken Trainor.

Members of the Rights Subcommittee, who did not sign on to this report are: David Schweig, John Erickson, David Gawne, Ray Simpson, Matt Udelson, Brian Slowiak, Lynn Totzke, Rosemary Juravic, Josie D'Avolio.

Reader Comments

50 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: December 14th, 2013 1:14 PM

I'm sorry, but after reading all of "Bill Doogan"'s posts it is clear that he cannot be taken seriously in this conversation. Toys in the attic, dude.

Bill Doogan  

Posted: December 14th, 2013 11:29 AM

Stanley Wrice just got out of prison after 31 yrs. Detectives working for Jon Burge beat him into confession. Go tell him about "civility." You don't get to talk down to people, ignore facts and dictate the terms of the debate about guns & violence in society, without admitting police violence against the black community. Your refusal to admit that the NRA lobbyist deliberately wrote law that encourages police criminals is why you and the NRA types cannot be trusted by anybody on either side

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 13th, 2013 10:45 AM

@ Doogan - this conversation revolves around firearms policy in Oak Park and Concealed carry is still shaking out. Your fixation on DTI seems to be more an issue of concealed carry and the legal requirements of that permit. Your characterization of police officers as murderers seems a bit slanderous to me. Civility is taking a hit - thanks a lot!

Bill Doogan  

Posted: December 12th, 2013 12:31 PM

No Ray, you don't get it. When the NRA lobbyist for IL betrays Otis McDonald, you, and everyone in Cook Co. by placing DTI in the carry bill, you have a serious problem with treason in your own ranks. Why would you expect the gun control people to trust you, when you don't clean out your own house? DTI encourages police criminals to profile and arrest black people. It provides legal cover for murder. No one in IL will have fair gun laws without honest & ethical people to write them.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 11th, 2013 8:46 AM

@ Doogan - OK we get it - you have problems with a bunch of people. What is your solution? This study group assembled with the idea of making positive progress toward reducing gun violence. The two sides see the problem differently and the solutions just as differently. This column demonstrates the pro regulation sides approach. Our side views better enforcement of existing laws, mental health, drug wars and gang mentality as a better road to travel. The Trainor et al solution makes demands on legitimate gun owners, yet they offer nothing in return. You give - I take - - not much of a bargain in my book. Kids who settle disputes by killing each other is a real problem. Drug deals gone bad is a real problem. Sniping at the NRA is the Trainor approach and only gets people mad.

Bill Doogan  

Posted: December 10th, 2013 11:49 PM

Ray- have all the debates & studies you want, you will never have decent gun laws in IL as long as the man who betrayed Otis McDonald and you by putting Duty to Inform in Phelps carry bill is the NRA lobbyist. Look at the crude comments from his supporters, and you understand the background of someone who was in the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers local 150 working for William Dugan before Dugan was convicted by the US Attorney in 2010. Clean out your traitors or you are finished.

Pete  

Posted: December 10th, 2013 7:28 PM

I think "Bill Doogan" has a sexual fixation on Todd Vandermyde

194 Children killed by guns this year, most legally bought  

Posted: December 10th, 2013 12:38 PM

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/12/children-killed-guns-after-newtown-portraits Open it up and look at the pictures.... How will allowing more people to have guns and carry guns stop innocent children from dying?

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 10th, 2013 10:37 AM

@ Jeremy - on the contrary - both sides see that very problem. The conflict is how to solve the problem. The regulations side have provided their laundry list of regulations here, They believe that more rules will reduce the problem. The rights side believe that enforcing existing laws and establishing swift, certain and punitive punishment will speak a language that street thugs understand. It is here that we could not agree.

Jeremy from Oak Park  

Posted: December 10th, 2013 9:25 AM

I reject one of the main premises of the whole debate - ostensibly held by both the rights and responsibilities sides - the idea that anyone is truly concerned about "guns in the hands of criminals, particularly gang members" when those guns account for the largest percentage of gun violence casualties. Poor minorities killing eachother appears to be a feature of our system rather than a bug. Giving private citizens police like power seems a further effort to enforce the status quo.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 9:57 PM

We are now up to 40 comments and yet to see the first in support of team Trainor and their position paper. Could it be that the emperor has no clothes?

Bill Doogan  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 9:46 PM

Ray- don't expect your hero Vandermyde to rescue you on background checks. B4 he betrayed everyone w/ Duty to Inform, he and Richard Pearson of ISRA bungled the background check bill w/ Blagoevich. The brain surgeons agreed to gun show checks, providing the State Police deleted reference to transfers in 60 days. Bill passed, and Blago amendatory vetoed out the destruction of records. The only people in IL who can't figure out that Todd Vandermyde is their worst enemy are the NRA saps.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 9:33 PM

"The young black male from Maywood" was an employee of Dave Scweig who spoke to our group. He admitted to obtaining a firearm illegally, and using the firearm and was on his way to prison for those offenses.

Background checks  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 5:17 PM

Here is a link though I am sure to some it might be a biased source, but it has info on where criminals get their guns: http://gunvictimsaction.org/fact-sheet/fact-sheet-illegal-gun-trafficking-arms-criminals-and-youth/ Problem also lies with "1.2% of federally licensed gun dealers who supply 57% of the guns used in crime." If the gun lobby wants guns, fine, but then stop getting in the way of bring able to trace the origins of how guns came in the hands of criminals.

Bill D.  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 5:10 PM

Wow, Uncommon. Didn't realize I was a liberal nor that I lived in an ivory tower. But I do know enough about crime around here to know that most guns come from illegal domestic sources. You confuse being a victim of a set of circumstances with understanding those circumstances. Or do you base your understanding of the foreclosure crisis on speaking with people who lost their homes? Because I'm thinking if those people had really understood it all, they more likely wouldn't have lost their homes.

Background checks  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 5:10 PM

I guess I was not clear--I realize that most people get their guns legally, but there are many ways for criminals to get their guns by buying them from someone who went to a gun show where there are NO background checks done. Not every state has the same regulations as Illinois--people who don't want a background check or wouldn't pass one seem to have options in the marketplace. Totally legal ones. And a lot of gun violence happens by owners of legally purchased guns.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 4:59 PM

Bill, given that young black men are far more likely to be affected by gun violence, I think I'd take the word of a young man in Maywood over some ivory tower liberal drivel any day.

Bill D  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 3:34 PM

You have to be kidding, Ray. "A young black man from Maywood" told us? Since when does such a person have comprehensive knowledge of something so pervasive? It doesn't matter if he said that hand guns come from the tooth fairy...The fact is, according to federal and state authorities, that a majority of illegal guns are manufactured here in the US and purchased through straw buyers and resold without background checks.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 3:22 PM

@Background - A young black man from Maywood told us that illegal guns come into US through southern gulf ports and brought north by the case. Those illegal and untraceable guns are then sold out of the trunk of some ones car. He also claimed that 70% of teens in Maywood carry guns - none legal. Not a single background check - seller or buyer. See my earlier post about the current background check procedure.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 2:36 PM

I think most gun rights folks are for reasonable background checks. However, I think the fear is that those background checks and registration could lead to eventual confiscation. The reality is that even with background checks, vast majority of gun crime is done by those who don't purchase firearms legally, so background checks really don't address the issue of gun violence. Sure, it may stop a few instances, but gang members don't give damn about a background check.

Background checks question  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 1:28 PM

Why would responsible gun owners reject the notion for background check requirement being required at any possible point of sale? That would go a long way to reducing the guns that get sold on the streets to criminals. Let's try to close the ways that criminals get guns. I am also concerned about conflicts getting resolved by guns on the streets. I would like to know what are the laws regarding gun use in public. When is it ok to discharge a firearm. The non-gun owning public needstoknow

Background checks question  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 1:24 PM

Isn't the request for universal backgrounds checks also a request that these background checks take place at all gunshows and also online (there are some places that allow person to person sales thus cicrcumventing checks)? Someone could go across statelines to a state that doesn't require background checks, purchase guns, and then return to IL with the guns. If I am understanding that correctly, that is a problem with not having universal background checks.

Bill Doogan  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 12:37 PM

Why don't you ask Chris Cox & Chuck Cunningham at NRA/ILA why they employ a contract lobbyist who betrays the people he is supposed to represent? Tim McCarthy was president of the Chiefs when Vandermyde promised them DTI. McCarthy does press conferences w/ Jim & Sarah Brady for gun control. Why is the NRA making deals w/ police unions? To feed their own members into the meat grinder. Bad laws create future job security for Vandermyde to lobby against his own bill, like building a bad road.

Dominick Ahrens  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 6:52 AM

@ Bill Doogan As far as DTI, why don't you address your questions to the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the agency that was pushing the hardest for it?

Bill Doogan  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 11:40 PM

Vandermyde supposedly "works" for Chris Cox & Chuck Cunningham at NRA/ILA. Contact them and ask why the NRA put DTI in Phelps carry bill? These people are your worst enemy, and you want someone else to fact check for you? Bad bills create job security for Vandermyde. His former boss William Dugan at the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers local 150 in Countryside was convicted by the US Attorney in 2010. Why would NRA employ someone w/ associations like Vandermyde? Flag wavers like you.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 9:50 PM

@ Doogan - Please provide some source for the specific charges you have leveled here. If you are just spouting opinion, quit affixing percentages that are made up. I have shot all around the midwest and have yet to meet anyone with a Klan mentality. If you can prove that the majority of NRA members support the klan - be my guest. If not quit spouting hate speech.

Bill Doogan  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 9:23 PM

The NRA is a carny show for the gun rubes. NRA is in bed with police unions. NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde, not the Chicago machine, placed Duty to Inform w/ criminal penalties in Phelps carry bill. Sponsor Phelps refused to remove it. They use blacks like Otis McDonald for lawsuits, then betray everyone in Cook County with DTI because 90% of NRA members in IL are from small towns with a Klan mentality. They think DTI will never be used against them, because "the police are on our side."

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 12:12 PM

@Brian - You just don't get it do you? You are trying to concentrate on the gun violence problem. Trainor's troopers are more interested in the gun owners.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 11:16 AM

""I proposed the Ill. St. Police to perform backround checks on FOID card holders w/ info already on hand in hopes of finding anyone who shouldn't posses a firearm. Kens side was silent. I proposed a life sentence for any person who used a large capacity clip in an offense. Possession of a large capacity clip in NY is a misdemeanor.Kens side was silent.I proposed using felony murder laws on the books in Illinois against straw purchasers of firearms. Kens side was silent.we proposed.No response

joe from south oak park  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 12:35 AM

I've had dinner with Illinois' NRA lobbyist. He's a really intelligent and funny guy. On a national level I have no idea what the NRA is doing, but at the local level I'm confident that the organization is doing their best they can for gun owners. that said, It's funny that I can't even recall the name of any of the AMA, ANA or HRC lobbyists. It might be part of the reason that the NRA is so good at raising money. They make it easy for members to find out what the organization is doing.

David Ortix  

Posted: December 7th, 2013 11:30 PM

Regurgitating someone else's views on gun control just makes you seem ignorant to what the laws are, since IL already has background checks. Chicago has the toughest gun laws around, yet criminals refuse to follow them. What would more laws do? Federal Laws alone could put someone shooting near a school away for over 5 years easily, but yet courts can't seem to convict. Enforce the current laws on criminals and stop trying to disarm or limit those of us that are obeying the laws.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 7th, 2013 6:10 PM

@ Jim Coughlin - misstatement #2 the poll that you are trumpeting was NOT a FOX poll as you imply but a poll commissioned by Mayor Bloomburg. Dr Luntz is a business man who knows which side of the bread gets the butter and most of your conclusions were just not in the actual poll evaluation. The liberals who reviewed it found all of your points and more. The more conservative reviewers questioned the way questions were asked. As for the objection to proposed common sense regulations the NRA-ILA looks deep into the laws for trip wires and trap doors that would allow redefining items to outlaw much more than originally stated.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 7th, 2013 3:43 PM

@ Jim - OK I get it - You and Ken hate the NRA and we all understand that you do, not why. I have similar complaints about unions but understand that slander isn't a valid argument.. You misquoted me about background checks and made no apology so we will just leave it there you give the NRA a thumbs down.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 7th, 2013 1:49 PM

Wrong, Ray. The NRA leadership publically opposes the sensible positions expressed by members who were polled by Fox News' Frank Luntz. They are not, in your words, "doing what members pay them to do". If appears to be too difficult for you to accept that it is actually the gun manufacturers and retailers who are calling the shots. NRA members be damned when it comes to protecting corporate profits. Conducting educational classes, competions and maintaining records are a minor activities compared to the aggressive and intense lobbying the NRA engages in on behalf their most prominent benefactors. You may right that they "do it better" than other lobbying groups but don't pretend that they have any real interest in responsible ownership and use of firemans. They shill only for the corporate masters to the detriment of everyone who seeks to reduce gun violence and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Interesting to note that NRA headquarters in Virginia does not allow individuals to carry guns onto their premises but still argues that businesses cannot prohibit their employees to be armed while at work.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 7th, 2013 1:12 AM

Ray - didn't say that the gun posting should be inhibited. What I said was that it should have its own Blog since the subject has a narrow audience.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 6th, 2013 7:48 PM

@JBM - and all of the participants are local residents with an opinion. If all dialogue was restricted to local issues, where would a lone citizen get to enter the conversation on national issues? This conversation resolves around a particularly contentious issue that has been studied by local residents for almost a year. The final report by Trainor et al only gives one sides opinion and acts as if the other side has or deserves no opposing opinion. Oak Park was found to have violated residents 2nd amendment rights for 30 years - so this is a local issue and many of us want to prevent another 30 years of supression. Many residents on both sides feel strongly about their rights and their safety and here is where we state our case.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 6th, 2013 5:17 PM

I think you hit in on the head, Ray. All of the issues you mentioned are "national." WJ is a local paper.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 6th, 2013 4:39 PM

@ JBM - John - I think it is more about two groups with different beliefs and how each side expects the other to act. Is our discussion any different than the Obamacare dispute? Or the income redistribution dispute? Or the NSA spying dispute.? Guns just happen to be a convenient touch point that allows people with strong feelings and little expertise to feel that they have a real contribution.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 6th, 2013 3:53 PM

I think is time for the WJ to make Guns an independent Blog.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 6th, 2013 3:42 PM

@ Jim Coughlin - where do you find that I do not agree with background checks? Every gun I have purchased required completing a federal 4473 form, a standard background check during a 3 day waiting period and producing a FOID card. I am fine with that. The regulation side wanted an instant check at the moment the gun changes hands - legally or illegally. How do you do that? The Trainer et al keep talking about a comprehensive background check - what is that. Saying the words seems to negate the need to specify what they are talking about. My point has always been that if you want to reduce gun violence - concentrate on that and leave the legitimate gun owner alone. He/she is all for the same reduction in violence and armed crime. It is true that the NRA lobbies for the rights and best interest of it's members and corporate sponsors. That is no different than any other lobbing group - they just happen to do it better than most.BTW the NRA has many other functions than just lobbying. Training, running competitions, maintaining records and serving the shooting needs of it's members. You may find fault with the NRA but, they are doing what we the members pay them to do.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 6th, 2013 2:30 PM

Ray Simpson posts comments that are not supported by the majority of NRA members. A poll conducted by Fox News' Frank Luntz shows 74% of NRA members support criminal background checks of anyone purchasing a gun and 79% want employees of gun retailers to pass a background check. A majority also are in favor of requiring lost or stolen guns be reported to police and that gun sales be banned to persons arrested for domestic violence or those who's names appear on the terrorist watch list. These common sense approaches are all opposed by the NRA. Ray Simpson continues to ignore the fact that the NRA is a lobbyist for the gun manufacturers and retailers and does not represent or support responsible gun owners. His musings regarding "the liberal agenda" seem to be right in line with a similar view. "It's obvious that lefists are not cool-headed logicians systematically analyzing the foundations of knowledge. They are deeply involved in their attacks on truth and reality." - Ted Kaczynski aka The Unabomber.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: December 6th, 2013 2:20 PM

@Question; your assumption is that Ken traynoe dragged us into a conversation. Maybe it is possible that we used Ken Traynor and his newspaper to get our side of the argument out, at no real direct cost to us.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 6th, 2013 12:38 PM

@ Question - We spent a year trying to counter the liberal agenda with logic, statistics, history and some degree of civility. This piece is Ken Trainors idea of a reasonable compromise." We tell you what we want and you give in." The reality is that nothing on this list will ever get enacted - it is just doing something, right or wrong - the effort is what counts.

Question? from Oak Park  

Posted: December 6th, 2013 10:59 AM

I wonder why readers waste their time commenting on articles like this. It enboldens the author the more comments that are made. Just like bad press is better than no press at all. I laugh when these verbose,self absorded, pseudo columnist drag you in. Gotcha!

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: December 4th, 2013 3:54 PM

I also find the lack of consistency from liberals funny. With rights come responsibilities we are told, yet it is too much of a burden for someone to get a valid ID to vote. Putting up barriers to exercising the 2nd amendment or registration/background checks is just common sense according to liberals, but requiring valid ID to vote is stepping on the constitution.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: December 4th, 2013 3:50 PM

I wish I could have attended, but I've learned that no amount of facts and logic will overcome emotional liberal arguments. It is all about feeling good that something was done, not about actually making a difference or results. It is an extension of the trophy for participation mentality. The unintended consequences don't matter. After all, if we can save just one child.

Dominick Ahrens  

Posted: December 4th, 2013 3:39 PM

I find it amusing - and a sad indicator of the language change game - that the side that favors more restrictions calls itself the "responsibilities" side. The "restrictions" - excuse me "responsibilities" side - calls for background checks for gun show and internet sales, ignoring the fact that in many states the same process must be followed at a gun show or a dealer. It also ignores the fact that under existing laws, one may pay for a gun online, but still must take delivery at a licensed dealer with a background check. They call for more restrictions, but acknowledge many guns are stolen - negating most of the laws they propose, including the "one gun per month" limit. Their proposals also offer no solution to multiple relatives, friends or romantic attachments purchasing guns for the same prohibited person. A 10-round limit seems ignorant of the fact that the VA Tech and Columbine shooters both used 10 round magazines, and used guns in "Gun Free Zones" which guaranteed that the killers would face minimal chance of any armed resistance. If you want to really stop straw purchases and the resulting crime, have the straw buyer charged as an equal in whatever crime the gun is used in... unless of course tat would violate those "civil liberties safeguards" you express concern about. I must wonder why the right to keep and bear arms is not considered a civil right you are concerned about to the same degree, and also why so many of your proposals seem to be ignorant of South v. Maryland et seq and the precedent of the government bearing no affirmative duty to protect the individual. It's also quite telling whenever one side issues a statement that they claim represents both sides, but has nobody from the "opposing" side endorsing it. Not that this is the case, but I could envision that side could publish outright falsehoods if they chose to.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 4th, 2013 10:03 AM

Ken - I think I wasted the better part of a year. I surely would not sign on to the drivel you have presented as your reasoned position - had you given me the opportunity. You take the NRA to task without understanding that they act in our behalf to prevent progressive "know better" solutions to perceived problems. There are groups on your side that we hold in just as low esteem, but don't slander unfairly. This position paper has not changed since the first meeting, in spite of reams of data proving the total uselessness of your proposals to have any effect on gun violence or access to firearms by bad people, you claim the higher road - AND BELIEVE YOU HAVE SCORED A POINT OR TWO. Sorry Ken, you lost the legal, constitutional argument and cannot write the surrender terms.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: December 4th, 2013 8:37 AM

for in state transfers and online purchases the seller is required to see the buyers FOID and keep a record of that transaction for 10 years. this goes for any firearm. I'm surprised that you characterize the gun rights folks as 'has everything they want' when it's still illegal to transfer or sell any firearm in OP. you also characterize the the bans overturned by the supreme court as 'erosion of the protections we value'. these bans were an unconstitutional violation of peoples rights...

joe from south oak park  

Posted: December 4th, 2013 8:24 AM

Ken- for someone who really cares about this issue, you really need to get your facts straight before publishing. the fact is, you cannot legally buy a handgun out of state either in person or online without going through a dealer who performs a background check. you can't legally own any firearm in Illinois without a FOID. just in having a FOID the state police run a background check against all card holders daily and also update with mental admission health information.

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