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December , 2018
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Hatch: ‘More guns, less safety’

Ford: “I have a job to do as an elected official and that job is to represent the needs and the will of the people that elected me.”

 

By Chinta Strausberg 

Chicago, IL – Mark J. Walsh, campaign director for the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Thursday plans to meet with Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D-8th) who said he’s leaning towards voting for controversial concealed carry weapons bill, and Father Michael L. Pfleger warned Ford if he does, it would be a big mistake.

Disturbed by Ford’s comments in Mark Brown’s Chicago Suntimes article that he is leaning towards voting for HB 148, Walsh said Ford stated he was leaning towards backing this bill, which earlier this year was six votes shy of passage.

Ford told the reporter he would vote for the legislation if it were amended to include a provision mandating the National Rifle Association pay for training for police officers. Speaking to the reporter after he recently held a hearing on HB 148, Ford said he believes the majority of his constituents are in favor of the right to own a gun.

That was troubling for both Walsh and Pfleger both of whom attended that meeting which was held on the same night as a similar forum at WVON and hosted by pro-gun groups.

Pfleger, who opposed HB 148, said, “I was at the meeting. Most of the folks there were not from his district; rather they were NRA members. I think Rep. Ford will be making not only a major mistake if he votes for this bill, but it will not be the will of this voters,” said Pfleger.

Agreeing was Walsh who said more than half of those attending Ford’s meeting “lived outside of his district.” Walsh wants to set the meeting up to include not only Ford by his constituents to get a true consensus reading on the level of support by Austin residents. “We’ve seen in polling in the Chicago area that over 82 percent of people are opposed to” to the bill.  “

HB 148 troubles Walsh who said, “Our concern is to make sure that he does hear from his actual constituents and not people that the State Rifle Association and the National Rife Association brought in from other communities.”

“We are concerned because the argument that more guns on the street will make the community safer we thought to be very flawed.”

Referring to the six votes that blocked passage of HB 148 coupled with Ford representing already a high level crime area of Austin, he said, “One vote won’t pass the bill.” Walsh said Ford’s voting in favor of the bill isn’t a viable solution. “Having more guns in the community will only add to the problem.” Walsh wants to meet with Ford since he made his remarks, and Pastor Marshall Hatch, chairman of the Leaders Network and pastor of the New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, said more guns result in less safety.

When contacted, Rep. Ford said he’s just doing his job. “Father Michael Pfleger and Pastor Marshall Hatch both serve in different capacities as ministers. I have a job to do as an elected official and that job is to represent the needs and the will of the people that elected me.

“I encourage Pastor Hatch from the West Side to drum up his base in the 8th District and have the people write letters, call the 8th District Service Center and make their position known,” said Ford. “The people with opinions must get engaged in the process.

“I want to serve as an effective legislator and the only way to do so is to do the will of the people, and be open to possibilities of change,” Ford stated.

“I respect the engagement of the pastors, but it is unfair and a mistake as a legislator not to be open to the issues of HB 148 during the process of getting public opinion. I look forward to being a part of this process whether I vote for the bill or not,” said Ford.

However, both Father Pfleger and Walsh warned that Ford is travelling down the wrong road and against the will of the people.

For instance, Walsh referred to HB 148 and said the bill “would allow people to carry concealed loaded guns in most public places including parks and playgrounds, city streets and sidewalks, restaurants, street fairs, grocery stores…which only increases the danger of gun violence.”

But Pastor Hatch made it clear; “Anything that adds more guns on the streets will make everybody less safe.”

According to the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (ICPGV), “neither the Illinois State police nor municipal law enforcement is allowed to reject a Concealed Carry of Weapons (CCW) applicant or even make a recommendation for a denial.”

The ICPGV issued reasons why HB 148 is an unsafe bill stating: “it does little to address the extremely dangerous aspects of this bill.” Under the amended version, it stated “out-of-state individuals would be allowed to hold Illinois CCW permits if they have CCW permits in their home state.

“An individual can be granted a CCW permit in Illinois if they are eligible to carry a gun in their home state and are eligible under federal regulations. It is well documented that many states have extremely lax regulations for concealed carry and gun ownership and, like Illinois, do not sufficiently report mental health and other records to the federal NICS background check system. It is estimated that nationally, over one million mental health records are missing from the NIC system.”

Why is concealed carry bad for Illinois? “It’s dangerous,” the ICPGV stated. “Recent studies have demonstrated that firearms possessed in public places present significant safety concerns for law enforcement, property owners, and members of the public. Concealed carry increases the chances that firearms will be used to settle disputes and increases the risk of accidental discharge in places where large numbers of people are gathered.”

Also, mentally ill people will be able to carry guns in most public places. According to the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, HB 148 does not require law enforcement to conduct an extensive mental health screening on CCW applicants, which includes a check of personal references and a psychological examination. Rather HB 148 relies on the validity of the background check that is currently required to obtain the Firearm Owner’s Identification Program (FOID) card process.

However, according to the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, “reports from the Illinois State Police show that both state and federal records fail to account for thousands of Illinois residents with mental illness that are prohibited purchasers.”

The organization said the state police “should have reported an estimated 120,000 mental health records to the FBI National Instant Background Check System (NICS) to prevent dangerously mentally ill persons from obtaining guns over state lines, but has only reported 5,000.” “States are failing to keep CCW permits out of the wrong hands” and more important “The evidence does not support the claim that CCW laws reduce crime” and “65 percent of Illinois voters are opposed to concealed carry.”

You can reach Rep. Ford at these numbers: 773-378-5902 or fax, 773-378-5903.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. 

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