GOP Senate candidates generally support gun rights, oppose new restrictions

Illinois' Republican candidates for U.S. Senate have similar - but not identical - stances on gun ownership and gun-control legislation.

None advocate restricting ownership of assault-style weapons, but some believe gun rights should be limited if a person is mentally ill or potentially dangerous.

One said firearm education should be mandated in U.S. schools.

Five people are running for the GOP nomination in the March 17 primary: retired information technology professional Casey Chlebek of Glenview; former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran of Libertyville; former police officer Peggy Hubbard of Belleville; Robert Marshall, a physician from Burr Ridge; and Tom Tarter, a urological oncologist from Springfield.

The winner will face incumbent Democrat Dick Durbin of Springfield in November.

The GOP candidates talked about gun laws with the Daily Herald.

Gun violence, particularly with assault-style weapons, has been a concern for many Americans and lawmakers, particularly after deadly mass shootings in Florida, Colorado, Las Vegas and elsewhere. But there's been little response at the federal level.

Chlebek criticized current gun-control laws as ineffective. To reduce gun violence, he said, early firearm education should be mandatory in U.S. schools.

"Just as we provide early education to obtain the driving license ... we should mandate at the school level a gun certification through vigorous training programs," he said.

Chlebek said he didn't see the need for people to own firearms with detachable magazines. Chlebek also said he doesn't own guns.

Curran called the Constitution "sacred" and said most Americans should be allowed to own firearms and carry them concealed or openly.

But Curran said he would support legislation designed to get guns out of the hands of people who are mentally ill or "criminally dangerous."

To that end, Curran said he supports laws allowing the temporary removal of guns from people who may be dangerous to themselves or others.

Curran, who acknowledged he owns a handgun, also said he supports the federal rule banning bump stocks, devices attached to semi-automatic firearms that increase firing speed.

Hubbard, who also acknowledged owning firearms, said she supports background checks for prospective gun buyers as well as "reasonable" gun laws. She opposes creating new laws targeting specific firearms.

"We already have enough laws on the books when it comes to guns," she said. "Criminals do not follow laws, and we are only hurting law-abiding citizens when we create unnecessary laws that limit their right to protect themselves and their families."

Hubbard praised the armed security guard who, in December, fatally wounded a gunman inside a Texas church after the intruder killed two parishioners.

"A potential mass shooting was prevented by a law-abiding citizen who stepped up, shot back and saved lives," she said.

Marshall, a former Burr Ridge trustee who repeatedly has run for state and federal offices as both a Republican and a Democrat, said the U.S. doesn't need more gun laws. To curb gun violence, Marshall said, more armed people are needed in schools, churches and hospitals.

Teachers should be voluntarily trained to use firearms, Marshall said.

"(I) agree with President Trump and the leaders of the (National Rifle Association) that a good man with a gun is the solution to a bad man with gun," he said.

Marshall said he owns firearms and is a member of the NRA and the Illinois State Rifle Association.

Tarter supports enforcing existing gun laws.

"I am concerned that more federal gun control legislation could render law-abiding citizens more vulnerable to violence," he said.

Although he supports background checks for prospective firearms buyers, he said they've had "little-to-no effect" on homicide statistics.

To reduce violence, Tarter said he supports police crackdowns specifically designed to get guns off the streets, such as traffic stops in crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Tarter said he is an NRA member but doesn't own any guns.

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Upper from left, Casey Chlebek, Mark Curran and Peggy Hubbard and, lower from left, Robert Marshall and Tom Tarter are the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in the March primary.
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