Protecting the Second Amendment
Protecting the Second Amendment
Over the last week gun control has re-appeared on the national stage for the first time since the tragic events of Tucson. This time the debate is taking shape in the form of a privacy fight in Illinois and a larger call from President Obama to find agreement on gun reforms.
Being from Illinois and a proud representative of twenty of Illinois’ counties I have a keen interest in the debate that is currently taking place in my home state. Recently a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) was denied by the Illinois State Police to release publicly the private information of the 1.3 million Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card holders in the state. In response, the Illinois Attorney General issued a directive mandating that the State Police make this information public. A court in my hometown of Peoria has already issued a temporary restraining order (TPO) on releasing FOID information as this issue continues to navigate the courts system. This TPO is a wise decision to ensure privacy is ensured while this directive goes through the appropriate judicial channels. The worst thing that could happen would be a hastily executed effort to release private information thus endangering the lives of 1.3 million FOID card holders.
Last week, in response to the attorney general’s directive, a bipartisan majority, 12 of the 19 members, of the Illinois Congressional delegation sent a letter asking that her directive be rescinded immediately. Releasing this information is comparable to the state releasing a list of everyone who does not have an alarm system in their home. How would this also be in the public’s best interest? This move to make this information public is a clear attempt to intimidate the citizens of Illinois from obtaining FOID cards and from exercising their Second Amendment right. If people knew their private information would become public there is no doubt less people would seek their own FOID card.
Then on Sunday, President Obama entered the fray with an op-ed calling for an agreement on gun reforms. There were several things I agreed with in the president’s op-ed such as his acknowledgement of the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms – while it may sound simple – this is no small acknowledgement. However, it’s easy to write in an op-ed that one believes the Second Amendment is a fundamental right, but the president’s track record on this issue has been less than consistent, such as the examples of DC v Heller and McDonald v Chicago. These are just two recent instances where the president could have stood on the side of the Second Amendment but chose not to by not joining with a majority of his congressional colleagues at the time to sign an amicus brief in the Heller case and supporting the handgun bans in DC and Chicago. My fear is that a call for gun reforms, with an inconsistent track record, means that additional regulations on lawful gun owners will be put in place; if not, then why a call for such reforms?
As with anything else, there are always a few who give the majority a bad name and those criminals who use guns for violence are no exception, and they should be the focus of our attention. The fact is that if criminals want to find a gun they don’t have to walk into a gun store to purchase such a weapon - which is another reason why making available to the public private gun owner information is such a bad idea - so the penalties need to be tougher on those who are caught. There is always a tendency for lawmakers to want to pass additional laws or further regulations to show they are addressing an issue, but there are more than enough laws on the books - they just need to be enforced to the fullest extent. However, I do believe there is broad agreement to encourage more people to report red flags to their local authorities when they believe an individual could cause harm to the general public; as has been the case in several of the most recent horrific events. I don’t see this as a gun reform issue, but more of an effort by local citizens working with local law enforcement.