Candidates discuss gun laws in Arlington Heights

Gun laws were a main topic of discussion during a candidate forum held by the League of Women Voters Sunday at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.

Two Democrats running for the 27th Illinois Senate District, Joe Sonnefeldt of Mount Prospect and Ann Gillespie of Arlington Heights, and two Republican candidates for the 53rd House District, Katie Miller of Mount Prospect and Eddie Corrigan of Arlington Heights, appeared before the audience in two separate sessions.

They are running for their party's nomination in the March 20 primary.

On the issue of gun violence, Gillespie said, "We need to do things to make our schools safer, to make our communities safer."

She favors banning assault rifles and the components that would turn guns into assault-type weapons, requiring more thorough background checks, controlling "straw" purchases in which a person buys a gun for someone not legally able to buy one and looking at red flag laws that allow temporary removal of guns from someone deemed potentially dangerous.

Sonnefeldt agreed, adding he supports three bills being brought up in Springfield this week that would require the licensing of gun dealers, raising to 21 the age for purchasing an assault rifle and the red flag law that would enable a family member to get a judge's order to revoke the FOID card of a person showing signs of mental instability.

"We need to have stricter laws that will keep guns out of the hands of people with violent backgrounds or any kind of order of protection," Sonnefeldt said. "Some of the most numerous victims of gun violence are women who suffer violence at the hands of former partners."

Responding to a question about arming teachers in schools, Corrigan said, "I am not in favor of arming our teachers. In no way should we look at something like that and just decide right off the bat that's the best idea. I think that we need to come together collectively, as Republicans and Democrats, and decide what is the best way to keep our schools safe. And I don't think that arming our teachers is the solution to that problem."

Miller said in response to the question of whether teachers should be armed, "I think that's something we need to look more at." But she added, referencing the Parkland situation, "With the shooting that we just had, the problem was we had problems with the FBI, that they didn't follow through things (and) there was a police officer outside that didn't come in to help take care of the kids. That's where the real problems are."

With Parkland, she said, "There were red flags all around. People were not surprised that he did that."

Asked about the law that would allow immediate family members to petition the courts to remove firearms temporarily from a loved one considered to be in danger of hurting himself or others, she said, "That's not a bad idea. Because it's the people close to you that are going to see where the problems are."

Corrigan said he hasn't seen the specifics of the bill. "Of course, if there is something that can stop these tragedies and if that comes from the family witnessing things and seeing behavioral patterns that aren't necessarily right and aren't patterns of someone who should own a firearm, I think it makes sense that we listen to them and that we utilize their expertise of their own family by removing (the) lethal weapon."

Joe Sonnefeldt: Candidate Profile

Ann Gillespie: Candidate Profile

Eddie Corrigan: Candidate Profile

Katie Miller: Candidate Profile

Ann Gillespie, left, and Joe Sonnefeldt are Democratic candidates for the 27th state Senate seat.
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