Editorial Roundup: Illinois

Chicago Sun-Times. October 31, 2022.

Editorial: High-capacity magazines for guns can quickly spread death and terror. Ban them.

Chicago, Cook County and some suburbs already ban high-capacity magazines, but a statewide ban would make it harder for criminals to get their hands on one simply by driving across a city or county border.

A new gun threat is painting a larger target on everyone's backs. Lawmakers should figure out how to curb it.

As Frank Main, Tom Schuba and Stephanie Zimmermann of the Sun-Times and Chip Mitchell of WBEZ reported in Sunday's Sun-Times, extended-capacity magazines - which hold 10 or more bullets and can be used with handguns as well as rifles - have become more common despite bans in some places.

Moreover, a surging number of guns with illegal attachments called 'œswitches'ť on the street, which convert guns from semi-automatic to automatic weapons, are being seized by the police department, according to the investigation.

A shooter with a semi-automatic gun needs to squeeze the trigger every time a shot is fired. A shooter with an automatic gun needs only to squeeze and hold the trigger, and the gun will continue to fire, causing far more damage.

When weapons with high-capacity magazines are converted to automatic and are easily obtainable, young people who carry guns will want them. But we can't afford to have these murderous weapons even further embedded into the gun culture.

When combined with illegal devices that convert guns into fully automatic firearms, the large magazines can spread almost unimaginable devastation and death in a matter of moments.

Twelve states ban high-capacity magazines. Illinois should join them.

High-capacity magazines - rectangular or slightly curved containers that hold shells for feeding into a firearm's chamber - are dangerous because they allow a gun user to fire bullets for a greater amount of time before reloading. They also can encourage a shooter to fire indiscriminately, knowing the gun contains plenty of bullets.

Even when empty of ammunition, a gun can then be reloaded with another capacity magazine. In the Highland Park July 4th parade shooting, the alleged gunman with a semi-automatic firearm used a 30-round magazine and then two more extended-capacity magazines, enabling him to kill seven people and wound dozens of others before they could get out of the line of fire. Afterward, police found 83 shell casings.

As in Highland Park, fully automatic firearms with high-capacity magazines turn streets and other areas where people gather into bloody scenes reminiscent of horrific battlefields. Users of the weapons can out-gun police officers who are trying to protect children and other members of the public.

The weapons also are harder to control, making it more likely that shootouts between gang members are going to result in injury or death to innocent people.

In 1994, Congress banned so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines for 10 years. Looking back, gun violence opponents say it was the ban on high-capacity magazines that really made a difference in saving lives, more so than the ban on assault weapons.

In Illinois, gun violence opponents hope to bring up legislation in the so-called lame-duck session of the Illinois General Assembly that would ban high-capacity magazines. It won't be easy to get the genie back in the bottle, but the Legislature should attempt it.

Chicago, Cook County and some suburbs already ban high-capacity magazines, but a statewide ban would make it harder for criminals to get their hands on one simply by driving across a city or county border.

What's really needed is a federal ban. Now, high-capacity magazines are available online and in stores in many places, and they don't require a license or background check to purchase. They can also be 'œprinted'ť with a 3-D printer.

But a ban on the sale or transfer of high-capacity magazines that passed the U.S. House in July is not expected to go anywhere in the Senate. If Congress does ban high-capacity magazines, lawmakers also should lean on gun manufacturers to redesign their weapons so those high-capacity magazines already in existence won't fit newly made guns. 'œSwitches'ť already are illegal under federal law.

Stronger enforcement for those found in possession of weapons that amount to illegal machine guns also might act as a deterrent.

As terrible weapons proliferate, both Illinois and Congress must find a way to get them off the streets.


Champaign News-Gazette. October 30, 2022.

Editorial: Alleged misconduct gives voters something new to think about

Illinois politicians are finding new and interesting ways to jeopardize their future.

There's legal trouble for politicians, and then there's political trouble stemming from personal trouble.

Illinois has trouble - with a capital 'œT'ť - and that rhymes with 'œC'ť - and that stands for corruption.

Apologies are owed to Meredith Wilson, creator of 'œThe Music Man,'ť for borrowing a bit of his genius to make a point. But the analogy seems apropos in light of the inability of Illinois' elected officials to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner.

The ComEd bribery conspiracy case recently expanded into the ComEd/AT&T bribery conspiracy cases starring former House Speaker Michael Madigan. There are other pending criminal cases involving current and former members of the legislature.

The indictments just keep coming.

Fortunately, the people of Illinois, given their vast experience, know how to deal with their selfless elected officials who stray from the path of legal virtue. They wave them a fond farewell as they are led away to the joint.

But what of our public officials who face accusations related to non-criminal activity during an election year? What's to be done with them?

That's an issue in two state legislative districts where two officials - state Sen. Michael Hastings of Frankfort and state Rep. Jonathan Carroll of Northbrook - face unproven accusations of abusive and despicable behavior.

Hastings, during the process of getting a divorce, was accused of physically abusing his ex-wife and showing an inability to control his anger in front of their children.

The controversy began a few weeks ago after a police domestic abuse report was leaked to the news media. Most recently, his ex-wife's lawyer filed legal papers alleging serious physical and verbal abuse by Hastings.

In Carroll's case, a former employee who became pregnant said that Carroll and a member of his staff repeatedly urged her to get an abortion that she did not want.

Both matters are being heard in the proper forum - Hastings in a court of law and Carroll in the legislative inspector general's office.

But there's no denying that they, as candidates in the Nov. 8 election, are being tried in the court of public opinion.

Both legislators adamantly deny the accusations. Hastings has charged that he's the victim of a political conspiracy to defeat him at the polls. Carroll has said there's no truth to the accusations but has not suggested any motive for the woman's charge against him.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker moved quickly to demand that Hastings resign from the Illinois Senate. Hastings, who has aspirations for higher office, ignored the governor.

That leaves voters to decide to decide what they think and what to do.

There's no question that, in these current divisive and partisan times, accusation is often perceived as guilt. That's a travesty - people are entitled to be heard before judgments are rendered against them.

On the other hand, there are elections dead ahead, and it will be impossible for many voters to separate the candidates from the accusations made against them.

Fairness dictates that voters judge the two legislators and their opponents on the traditional merits. On the other hand, candidates and their character are indivisible.

Those factors combine to create a classic voter dilemma. It will be interesting - and instructive - to see what they do on Nov. 8.


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