How is it that a right enshrined in our constitution still causes such division more than 200 years later?

I am a supporter of the 2nd Amendment to our constitution. This doesn't make me unique, though. Millions of Americans own firearms, hunt responsibly, shoot for sport or protect their homes without incident. Year after year, we see new legislation and efforts to demonize these individuals and remove rights our founding fathers knew were important. But why is this?

Despite the decision by our Supreme Court in 2008 in the case of District of Columbia vs. Heller, efforts are still being made to curtail the rights of gun-owning citizens. Here in the 55th Senate District, we know that gun ownership isn't about hunting, or even about self defense, as important as those things are to our way of life … and life itself.

Gun ownership is about participation in a free society where the power of government is kept in check at all levels, including the use of force. Our founding fathers knew this, and gun ownership was second only to the ability to speak freely when the started sorting out what exactly our new nation would stand for.

Gun rights are also not about the hysteria that surrounds the terrible actions that have happened in schools and other public places across the country. Nor is it about the weapons used in crimes. No one wants to see our children dying, or to hear about murders on the news, but we have to focus on the simple fact that this is a people problem … not a gun problem. Owning a gun requires an attitude of responsibility and knowing how to care, store and protect firearms.

Void the FOID

Illinois introduced the FOID card as a way to supposedly help track weapons for law enforcement to make finding criminals easier. What we find, though, is that it is being used for other purposes — to threaten the rights of responsible gun owners throughout our state.

After passing restrictions on applying for a new FOID card more than 60 days before it expires, Illinois has handled the renewal process so poorly that wait times now stretch to double that limit, reaching as much as 6 months. Why is this a problem beyond mere inconvenience? If you apply legally for a new FOID card, but the state drags its heels long enough, your old card could expire before your new one arrives, potentially leaving you in violation of Illinois state law — and at risk for having your guns seized.

What's the Answer?

We need to always bear in mind the reality that many people in Illinois do not support private gun ownership. This is a violation of our constitutional rights, but with a Democrat supermajority in the state senate and enough political pull from Chicago, anything can get passed in Springfield, whether it is federally legal or not.

Thankfully, there is a bright spot in this story. At the moment of this writing, legislation was introduced to finally void the FOID. 68th district Republican John Cabello filed House Bill 4067 to do away with the FOID and end half a century of burdensome legislation that only harms law-abiding citizens.

Representative Cabello's bill may not make it, but it is good news to see some support coming from other corners of the state. We believe in the 2nd amendment in Southern Illinois. It looks like they believe in it in Rockford too.

As your State Senator, I would continue to introduce and support legislation to void the FOID. I would also do what I could to help people across the aisle understand why gun rights is something we believe in here in Illinois — and why it is something we can never compromise on.

I have long said that the 2nd amendment protects the 1st. This is true today as it was the day our country was founded. Hopefully you will join me in fighting to make sure it is that way for generations to come here in Illinois and across our country.