Hultgren talks gun control after St. Charles shooting
On the same day St. Charles police shot a man who pointed a gun at them less than three miles from U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren's Campton Hills district office, constituents found a renewed reason to ask their representative how to address gun violence.
Hultgren, a Republican who represents the 14th Congressional District, fielded two questions about gun control during an hourlong telephone town hall with constituents Thursday night. The police-involved shooting occurred just hours before. Hultgren's answers show a clear contrast with his Democratic opponent, Lauren Underwood, in the November election.
Hultgren is a supporter of the Second Amendment. He focused on answers to what he sees as the underlying problem of a heightened level of anger in more people paired with a desire to commit violent acts. He called on schools and law enforcement to do a better job intervening with people others identify as potential threats.
"We need to do more to make sure people who are speaking out and acting out or have mental challenges don't get weapons, that people who have criminal histories don't get weapons, and when hearing of a threat we respond quickly," Hultgren said.
In Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, "This shooter was literally crying out for help, and people said over and over that this person is trouble, and the authorities failed. We have to make sure that never happens again," Hultgren said.
Hultgren said Congress can make sure schools and law enforcement officials have enough funding to identify and apprehend troubled individuals quickly. He said Congress has already done work to tighten up background check accessibility for law enforcement.
Later in the call, another constituent asked Hultgren his opinion on assault-style weapons bans or raising the legal age to buy or own firearms.
"A lot of times it feels like we're getting really good at taking away guns from law-abiding citizens, but we're not taking away guns from criminals," Hultgren said. "I want there to be clear restrictions and that we are making sure we are keeping them out of the hands of people with felony convictions and who have shown violent tendencies."
Hultgren mentioned one of his sons is on his school's trapshooting team. He said Congress must protect gun rights for sportsmen and people who want the ability to protect their homes.
Underwood said during her Democratic primary run she supports an assault-style weapons ban. She also backs what she deems "common sense gun safety laws." Those include: universal background checks, closing gun show loopholes, banning bump stocks, preventing concealed carry reciprocity and barring all domestic abusers and stalkers from possessing guns. She doesn't see those restrictions as an infringement upon Second Amendment rights.
"I am tired of reacting with perfunctory 'thoughts and prayers' after horrific acts of gun violence," Underwood said in a candidate questionnaire. "When automobile accidents took too many American lives, we intervened with fact-based policy regulations for seat belts and air bags. There is no reason we should be unable to do the same with respect to gun violence. It's a safety issue."