Casten calls for ban on assault weapons, stronger gun control laws

With violence on our streets a growing concern for many Americans, U.S. Rep. Sean Casten remains an advocate of stronger gun control laws.

When he successfully ran for the 6th District seat two years ago, the Downers Grove Democrat said there were too many guns in the country - and he affirmed that stance this week during an online forum hosted by the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce.

"We have more guns per capita than any other country in the world," Casten said, citing data showing there are more firearms in the U.S. than citizens. "If we took 100 million guns out of circulation tomorrow, we'd still have more guns per capita than any other country in the world."

Casten's Republican challenger in the Nov. 3 election, former state Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, wasn't asked about gun control during her chamber-hosted forum. When the Daily Herald sent an email to the Ives campaign asking for her views about gun rights, a spokeswoman said Ives wouldn't respond.

Casten said he supports banning assault weapons and employing universal background checks for gun buyers. He also backed red flag laws that permit police or family members to seek the temporary removal of firearms from anyone who may be dangerous to others or themselves.

As for constituonal protections, Casten said the Founding Fathers drafted the Second Amendment to ensure the new nation had a trained standing army to defend itself.

"Their view was that we were going to have to have militias that practiced, and they were going to have to be well regulated," Casten said.

"People showing up at the Michigan statehouse holding assault rifles (and) interfering with the operations of the Michigan government are not well regulated," Casten said, referring to the demonstrators who carried guns into the Michigan Capitol in May.

Public records indicate Ives voted against several gun-control measures while a state representative, including a red flag law and proposals that: created a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases; created licensing rules for gun dealers; and sought to create minimum age limits for people buying assault-style weapons.

Ives sponsored legislation allowing people to carry concealed firearms.

Although Ives wouldn't answer questions about her stance on gun rights and gun control, a statement on her campaign website criticized Casten for saying "having small genitals is not a sufficient reason to own a gun" during a recent online forum with a group called Illinois Students for Biden. Casten made the comment after questioning why people need to own guns.

"Perhaps Sean Casten is unaware that first-time gun ownership among women spiked amid the COVID shutdown and riots," Ives said in her statement, which linked to a news report about rising firearms sales.

In a series of tweets posted Thursday evening, Casten called his remark a joke "about the toxic-masculinity that has infected this whole debate."

"But here's the thing. I don't want to see another mass shooting," Casten tweeted. "I'm sick of going to vigils for mass shooting victims. I'm sick of moments of silence on the House floor for shooting victims."

The 6th District includes parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.

Libertarian Party candidate Bill Redpath of West Dundee also is running.

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