Welcome to the Land of Lincoln, with blue skies and a blue state capitol. Monday, our Governor signed two gun control bills which passed with veto-proof majorities in both houses. Sure, the veto-proof was not razor thin, but then again, not all pro-gun orgs in Illinois lobbied against SB-2354.
Two pro-gun groups, Illinois Carry and the Illinois State Rifle Association opted to negotiate with the people who would to strip us of our gun rights to see if they (ISRA & Illinois Carry) could to fashion a bill with fewer sharp teeth.
I wrote about this at The Truth About Guns Wednesday and the story's been seen by, oh, about 200,000ish people nationwide (not counting social media) as I write this. It'll go up here at Guns Save Life at noon Thursday.
Valinda has complained to the NRA that it was a personal attack upon her, but I told the story as I saw it without personal attacks. Again, I can understand why she did what she did in trying to negotiate a less reckless and evil bill. I don't agree with it. And if asked to participate in such a bill crafting meeting with Kathleen Willis, I'd politely decline while in mixed company.
I will not attack my fellow gun rights groups for doing what they thought best. Frankly, I sympathize with what they tried to accomplish. However, I'm old and wise enough to know that in Illinois' bare-knuckle politics, when your enemies give you access, they aren't being nice. They're setting you up for a fall or using you to further their agenda.
So Valinda Rowe, the Illinois Carry spokeswoman and registered lobbyist for Illinois Carry, wrote a nice explanation last Friday about the bill she helped create, along with Eddie Sullivan of the Illinois State Rifle Association. And Mike Rowe, Valinda's husband.
She made some pretty bold claims and I'd like to offer a few comments about them.
We have been in conversation about this bill with some of the most knowledgeable Second Amendment attorneys and 2A experts in the nation. In their opinion this is one of, if not the best bills of its kind.
I would give this a lot more credence if they shared the names of the attorneys who looked over the bill.
We started out with HB772 Lethal Violence Order of Protection which was an outrageous gun grab bill. We all fought with everything we had to defeat that version and then went on to fight to amend this version. At times it felt like a knockdown, drag out fight in the ring, at other times it was more like peace negotiations in the middle east – never easy.
Agreed. From my perspective, HB772 died because we educated some formerly supportive legislators about just how bad it was and they withdrew their support. On this bill, Guns Save Life member constituents flipped three legislators all by themselves in one-on-one meetings with their elected officials. In at least two of the cases, the legislators were relatively new appointments or freshmen if I recall correctly. In any event, all of the groups working together educated enough folks that HB772 stalled and died.
Nonetheless, we were able to change this monstrosity around and now the experts are telling us this bill is now more of an Emergency Intervention bill that addresses more of the real problems of mentally ill who are a danger, domestic abusers who are a danger, and those threatening terrorist acts. This bill could possibly set a new standard by which these emergency situations can be deescalated and lives saved, referring to the Waffle House, Parkland High School, and the like.
They did water it down with some more sensible language. But there's always a 'but'. Read on, gentle readers.
The attorneys seem to think the bill meets due process and constitutional muster because the order is not final until the firearm owner has their day in court, which must happen quickly.
In a perfect world, it would not meet muster, but sadly, we don't live in a perfect world.
What makes this bill exceptional compared to the gun grab bills:
1. The requirement for clear and convincing evidence is a high bar to provide and is one of the highest standards in the country.
Clear and convincing sounds good, but let me share with you the real burden in these plenary hearings:
The judges will side with the petitioner (person asking for the order) if there's the thinnest of evidence that the allegations are true and I'll tell you why: Because no judge wants to rule for the respondant only to have them then kill themselves or someone else. The fallout from a media crapstorm is the last thing any judge wants. Clear and convincing? That's in the eye of the beholder.
Furthermore, a judge in southern Illinois will likely have a very different standard than a Cook County judge who thinks guns are icky.
And you've got the State's Attorney's office arguing on the petitioner's behalf. I'd feel a lot better about Brian Kibler (sp?) from Effingham County making the right call than I would Kim Foxx in C(r)ook County.
2. The order is not final until the person has their day in court and that must happen within 14 days. This could even happen as early as that day or the next.
Yep, it's not final until that day in court. And what happens if the respondent doesn't have the cash to pay a competent attorney to litigate for his or her rights? Attorneys do not come cheap. A skilled attorney might charge $3000 to $5000 on research, court preparation and court time to argue a LVOP case. You got $5,000 to spend on recovering your rights?
And oh, by the way, in the real world, the burden will be upon you to prove your innocence and worthiness to own a firearm. Kathleen Willis will tell you otherwise. But Kathleen Willis has been caught "misstating" things plenty of times. Her word is good for about as far as I can toss her. And while I'm a regular at the gym, she's rather… prosperous.
Fail to show up, lose your gun rights effectively for life as the orders can be renewed every six months. And they will be until and unless you convince a judge that you're no longer a danger to yourself or others. Meanwhile you've lost the ability to defend yourself and your family from violent criminals!
3. Ownership is not prohibited and the firearms can be transferred to someone the person trusts for safekeeping.
+1 for Valinda. Good add.
4. Property is returned without need to petition the court.
Assuming all goes will at the formal hearing.
5. If the clear and convincing evidence of being a danger is indicative of a mental illness, the judge can issue an order for a mental health evaluation.
Existing law allows just this. Already.
6. If the clear and convincing evidence of being a danger is indicative of a criminal act/terrorism, charges can be filed and an arrest warrant can be issued at the same time.
Existing law allows just this. Already.
7. In the meantime, the firearms are removed from the scene and taken into safe keeping until the orders are dismissed or expire.
S.O.P. already for cases where people are arrested on serious criminal charges.
8. FOID/CCL could be suspended instead of revoked (if there are no additional circumstances that would make the person ineligible for a FOID/CCL). These would then be reinstated when the order is dismissed or expires. If you have been following the nightmare we have with FOID/CCL appeals, you know this is a HUGE win.
She's right. That's a win.
9. The penalty for false testimony is a felony and is another deterrent for abusing the process.
The penalty for false statements/testimony on existing orders of protection is also a felony.
It's supposed to be a deterrent, but one family law judge who came out to a Guns Save Life monthly meeting told us that fully one third of the petitions for conventional orders of protection are "suspect" to put it charitably. Many of those are brought with the assistance of lawyers… otherwise known as officers of the court who aren't supposed to lie. But just like lawyer politicians who make promises – and I was behind a truck today with a sign on the back end saying it was filled with political promises – they don't always tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
A Cook County judge who appeared at a Chicagoland Guns Save Life meeting talked at length how family law attorneys freely use traditional orders of protection as bargaining chips in divorce cases from the preliminary stages all the way through child custody and property settlement stages of the cases.
Perjury cases come few and far between as well. Slightly more regularly than Russian Collusion cases, but still pretty rare.
There are a few tweaks we would like to see and the sponsors have agreed to a trailer bill. We know trailer bills do not always happen but the major issues we fought for are in this bill. It's better than Indiana, better even than Florida's, in my opinion.
I'm inclined to think we will all support a trailer bill – if it happens. Hopefully it will. But frankly, the other side isn't feeling very charitable right now.
Where we are now – If the Gov. signs the bill as is, with the current promise for a trailer bill from the sponsors, we get a reasonable Emergency Intervention bill now with the little fixes to come in the new session.
If the Gov. vetoes or amendatory vetoes the bill, the risk is real that the whole bill will be lost and we lose all the hard work we put into getting amendments in this bill and would have to start over. In the meantime, heaven forbid if there is another killing (or worse, one in IL) – the hysteria would then drive the legislative language and it would be impossible to hold it back. If that happens, most legislators will be afraid to not support a bad bill for fear of appearing uncaring to the victims and their families.
I think most of us are very concerned about abuse of the process because we've seen what happens with regular orders of protection. In the next legislative session, I would like to see us take that issue on and increase the level of evidence for an OP to match this bill's requirement for clear and convincing evidence before an order of protection can be issued.
Unlike most all proposed bills we see, this one actually addresses an issue that needs to be addressed. During the many years my husband and I were terrorized by a mentally ill family member, had this been law, it would have been a great help to us. We can identify with potential victims and we see the real world need for an emergency intervention bill like this.
"Abuse of the process" is the primary reason Guns Save Life stood solidly opposed the the bill.
As for the signing ceremony, I have no idea what Governor Rauner thought he was going to accomplish. Colleen Daley, Kathleen Willis and the whole managerie of gun grabbers in the photo aren't going to support Bruce Rauner. They used him like a rented mule to advance their own causes and reputations.
As for Valinda and Mike Rowe, and Eddie Sullivan: I'm not sure why they shared the stage. Gun owners pretty much view things as black and white. Anyone who has worked the political end of things knows there are shades of gray (not like the movie). Convincing good gun-owning folks that you're not selling them out by helping to write this bill would be a tough sell on a good day.
Negotiating all this behind the backs of the NRA and fellow gun rights groups? What were you hiding?
And for anyone who thinks the National Rifle Association does not lead the gun rights fight in Illinois, you need to look again at who has the most members, deepest pockets, most experience and most clout among politicians. The NRA is not perfect, but neither are we or anyone else.
We at Guns Save Life simply strive to do the right thing for our fellow gun owners to defend their right to defend themselves.
Furthermore, as I wrote in this current issue of GunNews hitting mailboxes later this week, people are known by the company they keep. Guns Save Life could not be more pleased to stand alongside the NRA and work arm-in-arm with them in defending, protecting and where possible in our deep blue state, advancing gun rights.
At the same time, when Valinda Rowe writes this:
We in the firearms community strongly feel someone who is a danger to themselves or others should not be in possession of firearms. We know how important emergency intervention is when someone is posing a danger to themselves or others. However, we also hold strong to the fact that Second Amendment Constitutional rights must also be protected. The Second Amendment community worked long and hard to insure those protections are in this bill:
It surely suggests that we all in the "Second Amendment community" worked on this when "we" did not. Her "Second Amendment community" did not include Guns Save Life. Even more significantly, it didn't include the *really* big dog on the block, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Dear Valinda: Don't imply that GSL & the NRA had a hand in something they didn't and you won't get called out on it.
Here's the deal for everyone else: Don't get angry with either Illinois Carry or ISRA over this whole fiasco. Don't cancel your membership or send them hate-filled missives. They did what they thought best and we now have to live with it. A 3-day wait on gun purchases is not the end of the world. We'll just have to wait a little longer, just like blacks had to walk a little further when white bigots moved polling stations a little further away in an effort to discourage blacks from voting in decades gone by.
The Lethal Violence bill will hopefully only impact a tiny number of people, and hopefully only those cases where it's truly needed. If you're worried about it – and as a high profile person, I am – then spend a little over a C-Note and get the US Law Shield.
Their attorneys will defend you in an LVOP hearing as part of their coverage. At the same time, consider who you would place your firearms and ammo with should police show up on your doorstep with a warrant to seperate you from your guns. Talk with them ahead of time.
Illinois Carry does a great job watching legislation and keeping folks up to date on the General Assembly's doings. I recommend it for that purpose, yes, even though Illinois Carry pretty much has a blanket policy of forbidding their discussion board participants from mentioning, publicizing or promoting any of Guns Save Life's many events throughout Illinois each and every month.
The Illinois State Rifle Association does a fine job in so many things. They have a great range. They've got lobbyists in Springfield. They publish a quarterly journal. And they command a fair amount of respect among legislators. Furthermore, I'm envious of the weekly email updates to members. Rich Pearson does a great job with those. And ISRA's email alerts rank second to none when it comes to Illinois stuff – especially events in Chicagoland.
If you want to channel your anger, direct it towards the turncoat Republicans who campaigned as pro-gun (cough, Boy Wonder Peter Breen. Chris "NO GOOD" Nybo.)
Talk with Senator Bill Brady and Representative Jim Durkin, the leaders of the Republicans in the Senate and House respectively, who told their caucuses to vote how they wanted on guns this year. Give them an earful.
Get a fundraising appeal from the Illinois Republican Party? Hammer them. Send your money to specific legislators who stood by us as gun owners instead.
Don't waste your anger and energy attacking our allies when there are so much better places to spend it.