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Monmouth addresses gun law at capitol

April 15, 2011

If an amendment is not made to HB 148, guns and other firearms may find themselves on the Monmouth College campus in the form of concealed carry. However, Monmouth College President Mauri Ditzler, Robin Johnson of the political science department and ASMC President Trevor Netwon went to the capitol in Springfield on April 8 to ensure language in the bill would prohibit concealed carry firearms.

“Guns should have no place on campus,” said Newton.

Ditzler, Johnson and Newton spoke with Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville), bill co-sponsor Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) and David Hatcher, who lobbies on behalf of small, private universities and colleges.

“I gave a report for the students saying essentially that guns on campus are perceived as being scary whether you’re from rural areas, suburbs, or the city of Chicago. It’s agreed upon that things can be solved without guns.”

After November’s elections, Republicans and conservative Democrats swept into public office. Since then, they have pursued more socially conservative issues. Despite both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly being dominated by Democrats, who normally oppose legislation such as this, the number of Republican lawmakers and conservative Democrats has made concealed carry in Illinois a major issue this year. If passed, Illinois would be the 49th state to allow some form of concealed carry.

The original bill would allow persons at least 21 years of age who meet certain requirements to be issued permits to carry concealed firearms. However, the bill, as it currently stands, does not specifically prohibit concealed firearms on college campuses. An amendment was passed to prohibit a person from carrying a concealed firearm into a public library, but an amendment prohibiting a person from carrying a concealed firearm in an elementary school, high school or on a college campus is still being negotiated. As of press time, it has not been formally filed, assigned to a committee, or voted on.

“Having a gun on campus in a dorm room, at 3:00 in the morning would just make that an unsafe environment,” said Newton. “I look at it from the perspective as an RA or maybe even a security guard. How would you feel going around to a dorm room knowing that a gun could be present? It’s just not a good situation.”

According to Newton, this amendment would likely be fought by gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA), although he reports that Sullivan feels differently.

“His belief was the gun people, like the NRA folks, are actually going to approve this amendment because they realize by resisting this amendment, they are going to lose votes overall for the overall law.”

Currently, the bill has been scheduled for its third reading. After the third reading, members of the House of Representatives will vote on it. If it passes, it still needs to be voted on by the state Senate before being sent to Governor Pat Quinn to be signed.

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