Lawmakers returned to the Capitol for the final week of scheduled session in March, debating and voting on three highly contentious gun control measures.
State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) opposed the restrictive gun measures that came before the Illinois Senate on March 14, noting the dangers such overreaching legislation pose to the rights of Illinois gun owners.
“I understand and encourage a conversation about doing more to ensure that our schools and communities are safer for the people of our state. However, this doesn’t have to be an ‘either/or’ scenario. We will not achieve improved public safety by stripping away our citizens’ Constitutionally-guaranteed Second Amendment rights,” said Sen. Fowler. “The measures that came before the Senate today are overreaching, excessive and unjustly punish our law-abiding gun owners.”
One of the bills that came before the Senate was House Bill 1467, a measure that would ban the sale, production and possession of a bump stock or trigger crank. The gun control bill makes it illegal to possess the firearm accessories 90 days after the law would go into effect.
“When we consider gun legislation, we have a responsibility to our gun owners to do everything in our power to protect their rights, being as limited and concise in our legislation as possible,” said Sen. Fowler. “The measure is broad and excessive, enabling local municipalities to enact their own assault weapons ban. The reality is that House Bill 1467 could be better and we have a duty to our gun owners to do better.”
Also passed in the chamber was House Bill 1465, a bill that would prohibit anyone under 21 from possessing or purchasing an assault weapon.
“We have a fundamental right to keep and bear arms and this measure aims to deny those under 21 from that right, merely because of their age,” said Sen. Fowler. “It’s unrealistic to think that we would allow an 18-year-old to fight for our country, but would deny them the right to defend themselves in their own home.”
The last gun measure that came before the Senate was House Bill 1468, a measure that would require a 72-hour waiting period before buying so called assault-style weapons and .50 caliber rifles.
“A national conversation is happening surrounding gun control, gun owners’ fundamental rights and public safety. It’s conversation that needs to happen, but not one that should harm our law-abiding gun owners,” said Sen. Fowler. “Overregulation is not the answer. We should be working together to advance the conversation, finding a balance that works in the interest of public safety and also values the needs and rights of gun owners.”
House Bill 1468 will now advance to the Governor’s desk for further consideration. House Bill 1467 and House Bill 1465 were amended in the Senate and will be sent back to the House for further consideration.
In other news from the Capitol, a new Executive Inspector General was appointed on March 14. Susan Hailing will succeed Maggie Hickey who has served in the Office since 2015.
Hailing was previously first assistant Inspector General in Illinois, racking up more than six years of experience in the Office of the Inspector General. She is also a former Assistant U.S. Attorney with more than nine years of experience.
News from the District
Before returning to the Capitol, Senator Fowler brought together members from Southern Illinois’ trucking industry for a second meeting of his Trucking Advisory Council.
Senator Fowler partnered with the Illinois Trucking Association to host the event, inviting experts and leaders from the industry to come together to have an open conversation about the needs and concerns of Illinois’ truck drivers and trucking companies. With session in full swing, Sen. Fowler wanted to use the opportunity to hear from those in the industry, become better educated on their issues and ensure that their interests are being represented in state government.
Illinois State Police Trooper Hobie Boyles also attended the event, answering questions from the group about distracted driving, road safety, overweight violations, and regulations on hours of service for drivers.
Finally, Sen. Fowler attended the 20th annual Eldorado Future Farmers of America alumni fish fry on March 10. FFA is a national organization which brings together students interested in agriculture and leadership.