Suburban legislators' 'present' votes temporarily halt gun legislation in Illinois House
Three suburban Democratic lawmakers' "present" votes temporarily halted legislation aimed at curbing gun violence in Illinois because of a disagreement over who could petition authorities for someone's guns to be temporarily confiscated under a firearm restraining order.
House Bill 1092 is expected to come up for a vote again once the Democrats agree.
State Rep. Kathleen Willis of Addison, who worked for years on this issue, said she did not vote yes because the new bill altered the definition of a "family member" who could file such a petition to include "any former spouse (or) person with whom the respondent has or allegedly has a child in common."
"We worked really hard" on the original wording, Willis said. "We had concerns that we did not want this to become a vindictive thing that someone could use in a divorce situation or just because you don't like your neighbor or something like that."
Democrats Sam Yingling of Grayslake and Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates voted "present" with Willis on Friday, as did Republican Minority Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs, causing the bill to fall one vote short of passing.
Rep. Denyse Stoneback of Skokie, the sponsor, said "this is a bill that would prevent mass shootings, firearm suicides and firearm related domestic violence."
Crespo said it was Willis' argument on the House floor Friday that led him to vote "present." He said he agrees with the legislation in principle and might vote yes on it when it is recalled, but would like to see Willis' concerns reconciled.
"I think it's a good bill. It does the right thing," Crespo said. "But the agreements that were made early on, I think we should respect those."
Stoneback also moved to keep individuals not allowed to possess firearms from possessing ammunition or "firearm parts" that could be assembled into a firearm. The bill also would have established a training curriculum for law enforcement in enforcing firearm restraining orders and public awareness campaigns on firearm safety.
Suburban Democrats Maura Hirschauer of Batavia, Janet Yang-Rohr of Naperville, Bob Morgan of Deerfield, and Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz of Glenview co-sponsored the bill.
Willis passed the original Firearm Restraining Order Act with bipartisan support in 2018. She worked with the Illinois State Rifle Association, the National Rifle Association and Republican state Rep. Steve Reick of Woodstock at the time to agree on the definition of a "family member" as a spouse, parent, child, or stepchild of the respondent, any other person related by blood or present marriage to the respondent, or a person who shares a common dwelling with the respondent."
The act allows family members to petition the courts to temporarily remove firearms from loved ones believed at risk of hurting themselves or others.
Willis and Reick both worried Friday that Stoneback's expanded definition would undo the bipartisanship that went into the original bill.
"I will readily admit I have major concerns about changing the definition," Willis said. "That definition was done with input from all parties on both sides of the issue, I felt that it worked at that time."
Reick said Friday he "could not too strongly urge a no vote" on Stoneback's legislation.
"It was decided (in 2018) that to expand the eligibility of potential petitioners in this type of an activity would go very much against the civil liberties of the person whose votes were being denied to them under the second amendment," Reick said.