9th District Republicans differ on gun reform, concealed weapons

The four Republicans seeking their party's nomination in the 9th Congressional District have wide-ranging opinions on how lawmakers can stop school shootings and change gun laws.

John Elleson, a pastor from Arlington Heights, said there should be a "tight ban" on semi-automatic rifles. He also believes background checks and the mental health system needs improvement.

However, the "elephant in the room" that no one wants to talk about is that long-standing morals and traditions are in steady decline, he said.

"Would it not be better to get a child in Scouts, a sport or even a youth group?" the Lakewood Chapel pastor said. "They tell us religion and church are at an all-time low. Doing life alone and unintentionally is not healthy."

D. Vincent Thomas Jr., a DePaul University professor with roots on the South Side, called on the federal government to study gun violence as a public health crisis.

Thomas, a retired member of the Coast Guard, said Congress should lift the Dickey Amendment, which bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using government funding to study gun violence.

"Congress should also provide the necessary funding and other resources to the (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) to allow them to better track and follow up with schools, mental health professionals, and the military to help ensure those who have legal firearms - but are deemed a threat to themselves and others - are properly monitored," Thomas said.

Max Rice, a Glencoe resident, suggests schools should be required to employ full-time security officers.

"Congress should pass a resolution to invest more in outside school activities, including opportunities for youth in law enforcement," he added.

Sargis Sangari, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and the director of a think-tank group, said politicians push mental health and gun control agendas rather than looking at systemic law enforcement problems.

"Information sharing, common sense study of needed adjustments to legal thresholds for actionable intervention on denying criminals' access to potential targets, and empowering law-abiding citizens to assist law enforcement would serve us better," Sangari said.

The candidates also differ on concealed carry reciprocity legislation before Congress. It would allow people with concealed carry licenses to bring firearms across state lines and follow the rules of their home state.

Rice is the only candidate who supports the legislation.

Elleson and Thomas oppose it, both arguing states should have control over who carries firearms within their borders.

Sangari did not respond to the question.

The 9th Congressional District includes much of the North Shore and stretches to the Northwest suburbs through parts of Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and Rolling Meadows.

The winner of the Republican primary will face incumbent U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who's running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The primary election is March 20.

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