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Despite Mass Murder, Stricter Gun Control Seems Unlikely PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 23 December 2012 05:41

It’s difficult to argue with a point by the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent shortly after news had broken of the mass murder at a Connecticut school.

“If today’s shooting doesn’t prompt action on guns,” Sargent wrote on his Twitter account, “then nothing ever will.”

You’d think that the shocking horror of 20 children and 6 adults murdered at that school by a crazed gunman using a semiautomatic assault rifle with high-capacity ammunition magazines would prompt some action, either nationally or at least locally.

But nationally the NRA has almost completely embedded itself within the Republican Party and allied itself closely with congressional GOP leaders. As a result, when one of its own members (Gabby Giffords) was nearly killed during an Arizona mass murder by yet another crazed gunman, the U.S. Congress did little more than applaud her return to the chamber.

Ruling, Mass Shooting Put State’s Gun Laws in the Spotlight PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 16 December 2012 05:40

Before Friday’s horrific school shooting in Connecticut, people on both sides of the concealed-carry debate were saying privately that they did not expect Attorney General Lisa Madigan to appeal her major loss at the hands of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

A Seventh Circuit panel in Chicago voted 2-1 on December 11 to declare Illinois’ strict laws on carrying guns unconstitutional and gave the General Assembly 180 days to come up with a new, much less restrictive law.

"A right to bear arms ... implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home," the majority opinion decreed, saying that Illinois had failed to show that restrictions on gun owners – including bans on concealed carry – had any positive effect.

Appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court could be harmful to the anti-gun cause, both sides admitted last week. New York’s wealthy, influential, and legendarily anti-gun mayor could oppose an appeal out of fear that the conservative Supremes wouldn’t preserve his own state’s laws, which allow him to keep most concealed weapons off the street. Other states that allow limited concealed carry, such as Maryland and California, will also probably oppose an appeal for the same reason. They just don’t trust the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold their restrictive laws.

Congressional Candidate Faces Long Odds with Weapons Charge PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Monday, 10 December 2012 09:44

One of the most fascinating things about the media frenzy surrounding state Senator Donne Trotter’s arrest last week was that not one of his Democratic Second Congressional District opponents immediately jumped in front of the cameras to comment publicly about the matter.

They stayed silent even when Trotter (D-Chicago) announced after he was bonded out of jail the next day that he wouldn’t drop out of the race to replace disgraced former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Trotter was arrested Wednesday morning after allegedly attempting to bring an unloaded pistol through a security checkpoint at O’Hare airport. Reporters swarmed the courthouse after Trotter posted bond Thursday and then, when he refused comment, some descended on his home on Chicago’s South Side.

His arrest was one of the biggest news stories in the city, mainly because of his congressional bid, yet none of his dozen or so prospective Democratic opponents in the Second District special-election contest immediately issued a statement or responded on-the-record to questions about the case.

Latino Voting Power Could Soon Translate Into Legislation PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 02 December 2012 05:12

Five years ago, most Illinois House Republicans, including House GOP Leader Tom Cross, voted against a bill that would’ve allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain state driver’s licenses. The conservative rhetoric against the legislation was very harsh. Even so, it was approved by the House but never called for a floor vote in the state Senate.

Back then, the legislation was seen as political suicide by many Republicans fearful of a backlash within their own party. But because November’s election results showed that a heavy Latino turnout may have swayed several races in favor of the Democrats, Republicans have suddenly become far more interested. Cross, for instance, called the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (ICIRR) the day after the election, offering to work with the group. The ICIRR now considers that the driver’s license bill will be a “down payment” on whether the parties want to make a “good-faith effort” to work with it in the future. And Cross is supporting it.

Civic Committee Leader Pushes Himself Out of the Pension Debate PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 18 November 2012 05:46

For the past few years, the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago has been one of the most feared participants in the state’s pension-reform debate.

Ty Fahner, a former Illinois attorney general who heads the Civic Committee, managed to convince both parties to elbow each other for a position of favor with him and his group.

When Fahner ended up siding with the House Democrats back in May and endorsing their pension-reform plan, including shifting costs to school districts, the House Republicans were furious and disappointed. They had been assiduously courting Fahner, and figured that since the Civic Committee is composed of several top Chicago business leaders, they’d be the natural ally of choice.

Not to mention that Fahner also formed a political action committee (“We Mean Business”) to back up his word. Everybody wanted that money, so the PAC gave his position additional strength.

But those days appear to be behind us, at least for now. Fahner’s histrionics last week over what he claimed was an “unfixable” pension problem have all but cut him out of the Statehouse mix. “He’s made himself irrelevant,” said one top Democratic official who is intimately involved with pension reform.

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