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Backfire *** Updated x1 ***

Tuesday, Jul 10, 2007

* Mark Brown’s column says it all today. I’m going to excerpt more than I’m really supposed to because it’s so good…

Whether you agree with him or not, there’s no reason to doubt Rod Blagojevich’s commitment to gun control. Going back to his own legislative days, the governor has a long record of sponsoring and supporting serious gun control laws.

But there was something cruelly manipulative Monday about Blagojevich using an appearance with the families of gun violence victims to try to gain advantage in his budget negotiations with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The mother of 14-year-old Starkesia Reed — killed inside a house last year by a stray bullet fired by a thug on the street with a modified AK-47 — led the group of family members demanding the Illinois Legislature take action on a proposed bill to ban high capacity ammunition clips used in semi-automatic weapons.

They were gathered outside Children’s Memorial Hospital under a searing July sun, and Blagojevich drew their cheers when he promised he would call the Legislature into special session to deal with the measure, which was previously approved by the Illinois Senate.

“This is the beginning of a whole series of special sessions that I will be calling to take care of unfinished business, and if some legislative leaders don’t want to call bills to a vote on their own, we’ll call special sessions and make them call these bills,” the governor shouted over the noise of an arriving helicopter.

The implication was that the gun bill had been impeded by Madigan, whose dispute with the governor on budgetary matters has sent the Legislature into overtime. The overtime was the inevitable outcome of one of the most bizarre legislative sessions most can remember, made stranger by the personal enmity between Blagojevich and Madigan.
But with Monday’s gambit, the governor only made matters worse in Springfield while doing nothing to help the cause he was supposedly advocating.

The gun bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Harry Osterman (D-Chicago), explained it was his own decision not to bring the issue to a vote for the simple and sensible reason he didn’t have the necessary 60 supporters to win passage.

And he closes with…

Blagojevich should slow down with the special sessions before he shoots himself in the foot again.

* Brown also reported that Blagojevich didn’t try to help pass the gun bill during the regular session or since then, which makes this comment by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a gun control supporter, in an AP story worth noting…

[Currie] suggested Blagojevich could have spoken up earlier rather than leading the charge in an overtime session of the Legislature.

* Rep. John Bradley put his finger on what the governor is really trying to do here

Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) referenced Lincoln’s famous speech to urge the House to stand together against the governor.

“This is an attempt to divide this House, to divide this caucus, to divide this state further,” he said.

*** UPDATE *** The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform notes that, unlike the gun bill, a wide-ranging ethics bill which already passed the House has 45 co-sponsors in the Senate - way more than enough to pass.

The ICPR rightly notes that the ethics bill “hasn’t even been assigned to a committee in the Senate”…

We’re not saying that [the governor] should call a Special Session for ethics. But if he did, we can see the quote now. “How is it that a bill that passed… the State House that would ban pay to play, didn’t get a chance to have a vote in the Senate?” How indeed.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Gregor - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 8:18 am:

    The governor can’t seem to stay on track, he just hops from issue to issue, it is like he has ADD or something. The way he’s been using the special session power is like when a kid finds the remote control for the garage door the first time. Like Madigan, after a bit you have to yell at him to “knock it off!”

  2. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 9:23 am:

    I’m posting this in comments today on almost every item…

    The really nasty nicknames some of you routinely use are annoying me. I’ve begun deleting the worst ones and will continue to do so.

    Elevate yourselves, please. It’s not too much to ask.

  3. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 9:25 am:

    And by “nicknames” I mean nicknames you have given others, like the guv, Stroger, etc.

  4. - Just Saying - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 9:37 am:

    I bet Bradley was actually referring to Lincoln, but Lincoln wasn’t the first with a House Divided speech. Check out Mark 3. ;)

  5. - hmmmm - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 9:50 am:

    Only reporters would consider an ethics bill of greater importance than protecting people from assault weapons.

  6. - Reddbyrd - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 9:58 am:

    Mark Brown is a very bright guy, but is he related to that Brown who works for Madigan?

    Rich I hope you don’t mind the really funny names like BrickheadJoe and JudyBore!

  7. - Ken in Aurora - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 10:19 am:

    hmmmm - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 9:50 am: That’s the nice thing about a democracy, we can all have differing opinions.

  8. - anonymiss - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 10:26 am:

    “hmmmm” - ICPR are not reporters, they are a good government and ethics reform organization who never said gun control wasn’t important. I think their point is that the Governor is calling a special session and holding press conferences for a politically-gainful issue (guns) and ignoring another (which also passed one chamber and got stalled by leadership in another) which might shine some light on his own (and his allies’) impropriety.

  9. - Don Gwinn - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 12:17 pm:

    So, the crazy, over-the-top ISRA was basically right in the action alert Rich mocked them for sending out. The only thing they missed was that Blagojevich would be calling for a ban on magazines instead of guns, which is clearly very, very different. Being unable to use your firearm because the magazine is illegal is very different from being unable to use your firearm because the firearm is illegal.

    What I haven’t seen anyone mention is that Starkesia Reed was killed in Chicago, which is located in Cook County–where all AK47 variants are already illegal.

    Blagojevich is using her family, and it’s disgusting. It’s hard to blame them; grief displaces reason so easily, and when some politician says he can fix it so no one else suffers the same grief, it’s only natural that they start thinking it would be better if people remembered their daughter for something positive.

    And there’s a politician, waiting to tell them the lies they want to hear.

  10. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 1:00 pm:

    Don, the ISRA claimed that Kotowski would be introducing legislation to take away “most of your guns.” Did that happen? No.

  11. - Don Gwinn - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 1:57 pm:

    Yes, one small detail of the prediction was wrong. The rest of it was right.

    You know, in the 1960’s, Ford created a race car called the GT40. The GT40 used a 427 “cammer” big block and destroyed all competition on the Le Mans circuit in Europe. The Europeans got into a snit over this and banded together to ban the upstart.
    However, they all agreed that it would be terrible press to ban the car–maybe impossible. So they did what they thought was the next best thing–they banned all engines of greater than a given displacement. It just happened, coincidentally, that the new displacement rule didn’t affect any of the engines used by the various manufacturers–except that it prohibited the 427 V8.

    They hadn’t banned the car after all–only its engine. And Kotowski doesn’t want to ban guns (today, anyway) only the magazines that make them work. The fact remains that the ISRA got most things right:

    1. Kotowski is obsessed with a gun-free Illinois–sorry, but again, his track record speaks for itself. You can tell this one’s true by his employment history.

    2. Blagojevich and is going to call a special session, but he’s going to forget the budget for awhile and go for gun control instead.
    This happened. Hard to debate that one.

  12. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 2:01 pm:

    One small part? For crying out loud, they predicted that bills would be introduced to take most of your guns away! That would hardly be a “small part.”

    I didn’t disagree that a special session would be called. I was the one who broke the story last Friday.

    And Kotowski specifically told me yesterday that he would absolutely not support a “gun-free Illinois.” I would ask you for any evidence that he would ban and confiscate all guns from everybody in Illinois except law enforcement and the military.

    You guys really need to take off your pointy tinfoil hats.

  13. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 2:06 pm:

    ISRA’s Action Alert from Monday…

    ===Governor Blagojevich and State Senator Dan Kotowski are planning to ambush gun owners on July 9th by calling for a special legislative session on so-called “gun violence.” It is expected that Kotowski will introduce legislation that would result in the banning and forced confiscation of most of your guns. The hope is to ramrod this legislation through the General Assembly while the public is distracted by failed budget negotiations.

    Senator Kotowski is quickly establishing himself as the most dangerous anti-gunner in the nation. He is using every trick in the book to find a way to take your guns away from you. He doesn’t care if you are a hunter, target shooter, or trap shooter. He wants to take your guns away from you. He is obsessed with the notion of a gun-free Illinois. He is obsessed with the desire to humiliate you and strip you of your guns.===

  14. - Ken in Aurora - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 2:20 pm:

    Rich, he’s trying to ban several entire classes of legal firearms. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

  15. - Ken in Aurora - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 2:23 pm:

    Sen. Bigbutt introduces legislation to ban all powerboats over 17′ with the comment that “only gas hogs use those big 25 footers, why do they need ‘em? All they need for fishing is my daddy’s old Lund.”

    Silly, eh?

  16. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 2:24 pm:

    Ken, take a look at his bill introductions. There’s the magazine bill and the .50 cal bill, which doesn’t have the votes to pass. That’s it. Two bills.

  17. - Ken in Aurora - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 3:32 pm:

    Rich, that’s the point - by banning magazines of over a given capacity, they’re effectively doing away with several entire classes of firearms (both handgun and rifle). Magazines are wear components, and once they’re gone the affected firearms become fancy doorstops.

    Restricted capacity magazines may become available like they did during the federal ban, but many (most?) have had severe functional issues.

    I believe in reasonable controls on firearm ownership, but this one ain’t reasonable. Show me increased mandatory sentences for crimes committed with guns and I’ll listen - go after the abusers, not the law abiding owners. I’m not a gun rights fanatic, but damn if I’m not sick of being lumped in with gang bangers because of my guns.

  18. - NRA Endowment Life Member - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 3:46 pm:

    “And Kotowski specifically told me yesterday that he would absolutely not support a “gun-free Illinois.” I would ask you for any evidence that he would ban and confiscate all guns from everybody in Illinois except law enforcement and the military.

    You guys really need to take off your pointy tinfoil hats.”


    The problem as I see it is that:

    1) The phrase ‘gun-free’ Illinois can be professionally parsed by a politician to mean *anything*. Thirty years of gun control efforts (some reasonable, most completely over-the-top) have left most pro-gunners completely unwilling to trust the word of any politician. Actions speak far louder.

    2) It is an absolutely unassailable truth that the modus operandi of the anti-gun movement is divide and conquer. Anti-gun activists and politicians realized long ago that a goal of banning guns (such as the near-total bans in Australia, England and Canada) was not attainable. A strategy was therefore devised to attack the issue one item at a time. No one, for example, could possibly object to banning 50 round magazines….you don’t need 50 rounds to hunt deer with. No one could object to banning $30 handguns…they are cheap junk. No one could object to banning .50 cal. rifles…you could shoot an airplane down with them. And so on.

    The problem is, as bad as you see the rhetoric from ISRA, what comes from the camps of the anti-gun movement is often more over the top. Gun owners are portrayed as slack-jawed hicks with a 6th grade education. Whenever a mass-murder uses the gun as his tool of destruction, anti-gun activists and pols run to the nearest camera and pontificate about the evil in our midst. Note that the evil is invariably legal gun ownership - NOT the deranged individual that committed the crime.

    In short, decades of ‘divide and conquer’ gun control efforts have left most pro-gun advocates unwilling to compromise on anything that bans a class of firearm. This is especially true when the criterion used is as irrelevant as how ‘evil’ the gun looks. I support common-sense efforts to limit availability of firearms to those that should not have them - felons, mentally unstable, etc. - but I will never support a ban on such useless criterion as how many rounds of ammo a magazine holds. To most gun owners, compromise with anti-gun politicians equals surrender. You have to draw the line somewhere.

  19. - Frosty Da Snowman - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 4:20 pm:

    Oh, so Kotowski says he’s not in favor of a “gun free” Illinois, eh?

    I feel much better now.

  20. - Huh? - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:06 pm:

    Aren’t there already bans on gun magazine size? I thought it was passed a few years ago.

  21. - Ken in Aurora - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:08 pm:

    There was a federal ban that ran from ‘94 to ‘04, it wasn’t renewed.

  22. - Dozer - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:13 pm:

    Rich don’t forget Kotowski is a chief sponsor of SB-16 the daley gun ban. a ban far more reaching than the federal ban in 1994.

  23. - Frosty Da Snowman - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:19 pm:

    There was a federal ban but the Congress saw how stupid it was and let it sunset.

  24. - Frosty Da Snowman - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:20 pm:

    Kotowski was also the Chair of the ICHV, which has, as its mission, eliminating private firearm ownership.

  25. - Name/Nickname/Anon - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:23 pm:

    SB16 takes the standard list of guns that has been placed in every gun ban bill since the late 1980s and adds cosmetic language such as bayonet lugs, flash hiders, folding stocks, etc. It is little more than a continuous effort on the part of the gun control lobby to ban, force register and eventually, confiscate a type of firearm based upon its appearance. It is simple-minded logic on the part of politicians too lazy to do their own homework. It does, however, make for a good soundbyte when you are trying to look like ‘you care’.

    In case anyone thinks that confiscation isn’t the ultimate goal of these bills, ask legal gun owners in the state of California about how ‘well-intentioned’ their pols were (and are). The only reason you don’t hear about these efforts at the federal level anymore is that both the Democrats and Republicans KNOW that support of gun control is a loser on the national level and it is a good way to get sent home by the voters.

  26. - Ken in Aurora - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:26 pm:

    Quite frankly, despite my distaste for ISRA they’re helping make and keep gun control a third-rail issue…

  27. - Squideshi - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:26 pm:

    I don’t think that incumbent Democrats really wanted an ethics bill, but they had to put on a good show and make it look like they might pass one because the ethics package proposed by Rich Whitney in 2006 was gaining popularity in the media.

  28. - Frosty Da Snowman - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:31 pm:

    Distaste of the ISRA? For what reason?

  29. - Don Gwinn - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:31 pm:

    Rich Miller takes a politician at his word when his word contradicts his actions?

    Well, if he said he didn’t want to ban guns, he must be telling the truth. I apologize.

    I guess Blagojevich really wants to finish off this budget thing and the rank-and-file legislators really should have just worked 5 days per week. He’s a politician, he wouldn’t lie.

    Meanwhile, Kotowski, whatever he says, is following the template for banning guns step-by-step as laid out by the Brady Campaign (back when they were Handgun Control, Inc.) and the “Violence Policy Center” (aka Josh Sugarmann’s kitchen table.)

    First step is to try to cull some gun owners out of the herd. To do this, you focus your efforts on banning one type of guns, which needs to have two key traits:

    1. It must be a small, preferably obscure set of gun owners so that the majority of gun owners will not feel personally threatened.

    2. It must be a group misunderstood by most voters and easily demonized, even if you have to be dishonest to do it. Sugarmann suggested that “assault weapons” are the best group with which to start (though he didn’t know much about .50 BMG back then) and had this to say in print back in 1989:
    “[Assault weapons] are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons – anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun – can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.”

    But you’re probably right. It’s probably just a coincidence. Personally, I’m having a hard time convincing myself. His actions are speaking so loudly it’s hard to hear his words.

  30. - Don Gwinn - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:40 pm:

    Rich, are you familiar with the handgun ban in Chicago? Do you know how the mechanism works?

    See, they didn’t pass a ban. Back then people were worried that some crazy federal judge would rule that they couldn’t infringe on the right to keep and bear arms or some such wild-eyed gun nut nonsense. So rather than pass an outright ban, they said they wanted to register handguns. No confiscation, just registration. “We have a right to know who has pocket-sized engines of death and mutilation” and all that good stuff.

    Once the registration measure passed, they accepted some registrations and then simply stopped. For the past 20-odd years, it’s been perfectly legal to own a handgun in Chicago. The catch?
    You have to register the gun . . . and that Chicago will NOT allow you to do.

    You aren’t paranoid if they really do want you disarmed.

  31. - Pro-Gunner - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:43 pm:

    Time will tell who is wearing the pointy tinfoil hats.

  32. - Frosty Da Snowman - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:44 pm:

    It’s also illegal to kill people in Chicago.

  33. - Frosty Da Snowman - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:48 pm:

    Special session #8 on “assault weapons” will be called tomorrow.

  34. - Pro-Gunner - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 5:53 pm:

    Maybe Rich’s soon to be purchased semiautomatic shotgun will be listed as an assault weapon.

  35. - Ken in Aurora - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 6:00 pm:

    Frosty - because of some of their past actions during the Valentino era, their tendency to sound breathless and shrill in their updates, and what appears to be an inability to keep up with day-to-day political activities in Springpatch.

    IMO they come off like a bunch of ninnies - which may or may not just be a matter of perception. They definitely need to work on their image.

    For dog’s sake, I see alerts published on their website that are full of grammatical and spelling errors! Do you know what that makes gun owners look like? It makes me cringe!!!

  36. - Frosty Da Snowman - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 6:08 pm:

    Ken…stop living in the past. The Valentinos are long gone and long forgotten. Shrill updates? Um, don’t the actions of the gun grabbers warrant a degree of shrillness? Give us an example of how the ISRA has been unable to keep up with day to day political activities.

    Um, mind if I ask what you’ve done to preserve gun rights, lately?

  37. - Don Gwinn - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 6:35 pm:

    ISRA definitely needs work, but frankly the pro-gun groups in Illinois are a mess. I’m not a big fan of ISRA, but between them and Kotowski, I know which side I’m on. I think that’s what Ken is saying, too.

  38. - Pro-Gunner - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 7:21 pm:

    So now the ISRA is being criticized for grammar and spelling. What’s next, neatness? The ISRA is protecting gun rights for all gun owners. For a gun owner to criticize a pro-gun lobby group is foolhardy at best.

  39. - Frosty Da Snowman - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 9:04 pm:

    Pro…yeah, these guys are members of an elite corps of easy-chair know-it-alls that have all the answers yet are painfully short of ambition. Will ya see them lift a finger to help the cause? Nope. Will they moan and groan when Kotowski and the boys from CAGE knock on their door to take their guns? Yeppers.

    But, I guess it takes all kinds.

  40. - dwlawson - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 10:43 pm:

    SB1007 is ridiculous. First, onl law-abiding citizens will stop buying “high” capacity magazines. The ones they own are grandfathered.

    Meanwhile, the criminals will most likely not even be aware of the ban and go about their merry way. When they are arrested with one of the deadly magazines in their possession, all that has to happen is their lawyer says, “He owned that prior to the ban.”

    So what is the real point of the ban? Think about it.

    I’d like some gun control advocate here to explain clearly (cuz I’m so stupid, it seems) just how this ban will save lives.

  41. - Don Gwinn - Tuesday, Jul 10, 07 @ 10:46 pm:

    Infighting with your nominal political allies is the state pastime in Illinois. It’s what we do, it’s who we are; it defines us as a people.

    Democrats fight with each other even 10 days after the budget is due.

    Republicans fight with each other while the Democrats flip them the bird and coast to easy landslide victories.

    And pro-gun groups squabble constantly while people like Richard Daley, Rod Blagojevich, Dan Kotowski, and Mike Madigan run the state. There’s no sense in pretending they don’t. Do you recall the ISRA/CCRA/CCI/”Vision Team” wars? Ugh.

  42. - Frosty Da Snowman - Wednesday, Jul 11, 07 @ 5:26 am:

    The ISRA board vs. the Vision Team was a philosopical dispute between two groups who actually put effort into preserving the cultural imperative of private firearm ownership. That discourse was healthy and has helped shape the most successful gun rights movement this miserable state has ever seen.

    As for the rest of you who don’t do squat to preserve your rights other than to sit on the sidelines and criticize people who are trying to make a difference, my message to you is put up or shut up.

  43. - Pro-Gunner - Wednesday, Jul 11, 07 @ 5:43 am:

    I heard that, Frosty!

  44. - Frosty Da Snowman - Wednesday, Jul 11, 07 @ 6:01 am:

    The purpose of the magazine ban is to make Kotowski look like he’s “doing something” about a problem that actually doesn’t exist. The fact of the matter is that most murders by firearm in this state are carried out with .38 caliber revolvers. Scant few involve any sort of semiautomatic rifle.

    Of course, the antis will point to the Reed killing as the “reason why” we need a semi-auto ban or a magazine ban. The fact of the matter is that the cops knew that her murderer, Carail Weeks, was running guns from Indiana for months before he killed the kid, but did nothing. Let’s not forget that almost a year before the Reed murder, Blagojevich held a dog and pony show announcing the formation of a state police gun running interdiction squad designed to halt the flow of illegal guns at the Indiana state line. As is typical with this governor, the squad was never formed and Indiana law enforcement officials were never brought into the process.

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