Progressive opposition to IL gun control package?

Illinois lawmakers are moving swiftly to pass a sweeping gun control bill that would ban so-called assault weapons, raise the age to possess a firearm from 18 to 21, and expand the state’s “red flag” law. With a Democratic supermajority in both chambers, the odds of HB 5855 being approved appear to be strong, but as we discuss on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, there’s a growing number of folks on the left who are expressing their opposition to various aspects of the bill… and the hostility isn’t just coming from rural Dems who represent downstate areas.


During Thursday’s hearing on the bill in an Illinois House Committee, Live Free Illinois lead organizer Artinese Myrick said they support prohibiting certain guns and magazines.

“But we are concerned that law-abiding citizens may be wrapped up in the system if they are not able to obtain weapons through the proper channels,” Myrick said. “For Black and brown communities who are over policed, we have more individuals who are susceptible to being swept up and are forgotten in the system.”

“We strongly oppose any proposed legislation that would further criminalize Black and brown communities,” Myrick said. “We are opposed to penalty enhancements for Black and brown communities, and we are opposed to the FOID card age limit being raised to the age of 21.”

With all due respect to Myrick, why is Live Free Illinois on board with banning guns and “large capacity” magazines if they believe that the proposal will force otherwise law-abiding citizens to break the law in order to protect themselves? Or, to put it another way, if the group is opposed to any legislation that would further criminalize minority communities, why would they support criminalizing the exercise of a fundamental civil right? The penalty enhancements that Myrick objects to aren’t written in a way that singles out minorities, even though that may be how the proposal plays out if enacted into law. There’s no real way to “fix” this bill, at least based on Myrick’s concerns. Enactment of HB 5855 would harm the rights of every law-abiding Illinoisan, but I think she’s right that the harm would fall disproportionately on minority residents in cities like Chicago, Joliet, and East St. Louis.


Of course, not every Democrat sees things the same way Myrick does. In fact, as you can imagine given Illinois’ leftward tile, there are some progressives who are complaining the gun control bill doesn’t go far enough for their liking.

HB 5855 lists more than 100 semiautomatic firearms and assault-style weapons such as the AR15, yet some advocates say that list is incomplete. Others such as Dr. Karen Sheehan, a pediatric physician at Lurie Children’s Hospital, said more needs to be done to keep firearms out of the hands who may be a risk to themselves or others.

The state’s Firearm Restraining Order allows family members and law enforcement to withhold weapons from those “in crisis,” she said, but does not allow licensed health care providers to do so. HB 5855 expands the temporary restraining order to 12 months, up from six, and creates the Commission on Implementing the Firearms Restraining Order Act.

“This is important because, as clinicians, we may know that a patient may be at risk before the family member does,” she said at the first hearing on Monday.

And her “solution” is to pass a law that doesn’t mandate mental health treatment, only the confiscation of any legally-owned firearms (and the ability to lawfully purchase a gun)? I’m not surprised to see Democrats push to expand “red flaw” laws, but it’s still shocking to me that any physician would support something like this, especially while Illinois’ mental health system is crumbling. Healthcare workers like Sheehan should be adamantly opposed to any measure that seeks to defuse someone’s supposed dangerousness without offering any actual help (or institutionalization if necessary), not trying to use “red flag” laws as a substitute for genuine treatment and care.


Given the current makeup of the Illinois legislature, the odds are with Sheehan and her fellow gun control supporters, but the debate over HB 5855 is only going to get more heated as we head into the start of the state’s lame-duck session in just a couple of weeks, and not all of the opposition will be coming from the usual suspects; conservatives, Republicans, Second Amendment organizations like the Illinois State Rifle Association, and rural Democrats. There’ll be a fair number of progressives from the Chicagoland area chiming in with their objections as well, and it’ll be interesting to see if their fellow Democrats ignore their concerns as easily as they’ve disregarded the protests of more traditional foes of gun control.

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