Gun control gains strong support from 6th District Democratic candidates

Democrats seeking their party's nomination in the 6th U.S. Congressional District all support stronger measures to help prevent gun violence.

Cast a ballot for any of the seven - Sean Casten, Carole Cheney, Amanda Howland, Ryan Huffman, Kelly Mazeski, Becky Anderson Wilkins or Jennifer Zordani - and it's a vote for a candidate in favor of universal background checks and bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and devices to help weapons fire faster.

All of the candidates say they want to decrease the influence of the National Rifle Association on politicians and to repeal a 1996 addition to a spending bill that prevents the government from allocating money to support scientific research about gun violence.

These Democrats, who all want to face Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton in the November election, all say they would push for tighter controls to help stop mass shootings. Here is how the candidates explained their stances during a forum for about 400 people Wednesday hosted by the Glen Ellyn League of Women Voters, in the order in which they spoke.

Jennifer Zordani

A 54-year-old financial services regulatory attorney from Clarendon Hills, Zordani said President Donald Trump's administration has an "NRA-bought agenda" that she opposes. She said teachers should not be armed and that a bill to make concealed carry standards uniform across the country - which effectively would loosen regulations in Illinois - should not be implemented.

"We need to stop gun trafficking, which means enforcing the laws that we have and preventing straw purchasers," Zordani said, "implementing universal background checks and an assault weapons ban that includes banning high-capacity magazine extenders."

Sean Casten

Casten, a 46-year-old scientist and entrepreneur from Downers Grove, said the focus should be stopping people with a history of domestic violence from accessing guns.

"If we are focused on anything else, we're wasting our time," he said.

Regulating guns like cars - so owners need a license, registration and insurance, and so they are liable if someone else uses their gun to commit a crime - also would help.

"If responsible gun owners want to have a gun," Casten said, "fine."

Amanda Howland

Howland, a 65-year-old attorney and College of Lake County trustee of Lake Zurich, said it's time to work on mental health treatment and keep guns out of the hands of people who have "serious mental health issues."

"In terms of gun deaths, the largest number of deaths in this country come from using a gun for suicide," she said.

Ryan Huffman

A 31-year-old data analyst from Palatine, Huffman said the country needs to ban "basically anything that makes an already dangerous weapon more dangerous."

He said the influence of the NRA on politics has to be reformed, and legislators need to repeal a 1996 piece of legislation referred to as the Dickey Amendment, which prohibits the government form funding the study of gun violence issues as a public health crisis.

"I mean some of these things are so basic; they're no-brainers," Huffman said. "But we have to get them done."

Kelly Mazeski

Mazeski, a 58-year-old Barrington Hills plan commissioner, said the vast majority of Americans of both parties support universal background checks for gun sales, including those conducted at gun shows, between family or friends or online. She supports repeal of the Dickey Amendment and creation of a federal ban on "assault and semi-assault weapons and selling bump stocks and high-capacity magazines."

Mazeski said Democratic voters also should appeal to Republican friends to pressure Republican lawmakers not to accept money from the NRA, which could help lessen the group's influence.

Becky Anderson Wilkins

Anderson Wilkins is a 60-year-old bookseller and Naperville City Council member who suggested the city create a gun take-back program that now exists to allow residents to turn in unwanted firearms to police.

She praised Dick's Sporting Goods for requiring all gun purchasers to be at least 21 and for ending the sales of assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines.

"If we have all retailers do this, we're going to make a difference in this country," she said.

Carole Cheney

Viewing the issue of gun violence like a public health epidemic would be a start toward prevention, said Cheney, 57, of Naperville, former district chief of staff for 11th District U.S. Rep. Bill Foster.

But a piecemeal approach to new laws won't cut it.

"Every time there is a tragedy in this country, we talk about what could have been done to prevent that tragedy, and it's like plugging holes," she said. "Unless we address this issue comprehensively, we will not make real change."

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6th U.S. Congressional District of Illinois

The 6th U.S. Congressional District of Illinois takes the shape of a "C" and stretches from Naperville to Tower Lakes in parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties. The district includes all or parts of the following communities: Algonquin, Barrington, Barrington Hills, Bartlett, Burr Ridge, Carol Stream, Cary, Clarendon Hills, Crystal Lake, Darien, Deer Park, Downers Grove, East Dundee, Elgin, Forest Lake, Fox River Grove, Glen Ellyn, Gilberts, Hawthorn Woods, Hinsdale, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Kildeer, Lake Barrington, Lake in the Hills, Lakewood, Lake Zurich, Lisle, Lombard, Long Grove, Naperville, North Barrington, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Oakwood Hills, Palatine, Port Barrington, Rolling Meadows, South Barrington, Sleepy Hollow, South Elgin, St. Charles, Tower Lakes, Trout Valley, Warrenville, Wayne, West Chicago, West Dundee, Westmont, Wheaton, Willowbrook and Winfield.

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