55th House hopefuls split on gun control debate
The issue of gun control and gun safety clearly sets apart Democratic Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan and Republican Susan Sweeney in their race for the 55th District state House seat.
Moylan, 61, a retired business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 134, has been taking shots at Sweeney's stance on gun safety through campaign mailers claiming her views are influenced by "extremist allies."
He said he would oppose any law allowing people to carry concealed firearms, while Sweeney, 56, of Park Ridge, says she would consider it. Illinois is the only state that doesn't have some form of concealed carry law.
"I talk to my police chiefs and policemen and they are against concealed carry," Moylan said. "Imagine if you are a police officer now and they do have concealed carry, every person that gets out of that vehicle, even though he is reaching for a cellphone, you don't know. Even the smallest motion now, we are putting our police officers in a very tough situation to make that call."
Sweeney, a former client manager for IBM and community activist, said she would support a license to carry under "certain reasonable conditions."
"I believe in the constitutional right of a person to protect their home and property," she said, adding that she would also speak with law enforcement officials to understand their views on legalizing concealed carry.
Sweeney said Moylan's claim that she is an "extremist" Tea Partyer is false, noting that some of her positions on social issues go against those of Tea Party candidates.
Her campaign has received funding from prominent suburban conservatives and a string of heavy donations from the House Republican organization. She's also received a $100,000 contribution from the Young Guns fundraising committee formed by GOP congressmen Aaron Schock and John Shimkus to provide support for newcomer Republicans.
Sweeney earned the Republican nomination as a write-in candidate after incumbent state Rep. Rosemary Mulligan, who has served in the legislature since 1993, didn't collect enough signatures to run in the March primary.
Moylan said he has taken heat from the gun lobby for his stance opposing semiautomatic, .50-caliber military-style assault rifles.
The Illinois State Rifle Association's Political Victory Fund released a statement saying, "In a campaign mail piece, Moylan pledged to pass legislation that would ban the sale of semiautomatic rifles, pistols and shotguns -- all of which are popular with law-abiding hunters, sportsmen and target shooters."
According to the rifle association, Moylan is not looking out for the interests of the owners of a Des Plaines gun shop who contributed $1,000 to his election campaign fund.
"I don't think that automatic military assault rifles belong anywhere. I don't think they should be near any schools because of the tragedies that happened in the past," Moylan responded, noting recent cases of gun violence such as the Colorado movie theater killings and Sikh temple shootings in Wisconsin.
Moylan and Sweeney also are on opposing ends of the debate over abortion and the death penalty.
Moylan said he supports a woman's right to choose abortion, while Sweeney said she is against abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger.
Moylan said he believes the death penalty should be an option for the "most violent and heinous crimes," as long as it can be proven through scientific means that the person convicted is guilty.
Sweeney said she opposes the death penalty and would not advocate for its reinstatement.
The 55th District seat they are seeking represents large portions of Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Elk Grove Village and Schaumburg and parts of Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights.