* Rep. Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport)…
We’ve all felt it. We’ve all had conversations, discussions and disagreements with friends from different parts of the state that have only bolstered our feelings. We see it in the news on a daily basis. It’s hard to avoid the sense that we have two different states of Illinois — one that those in Chicago and the suburbs experience and another distinct Illinois embodied by those living outside Cook and the collar counties.
Over the past year, I spent a lot of time going door to door and talking with residents and voters in our region. If you live in Stephenson, Jo Daviess, Winnebago, Carroll, Ogle or Whiteside counties, you likely not only know this to be true but may have even talked with me when I came to your door. In those discussions, many important topics came up — property taxes, jobs, children and grandchildren moving out of Illinois for work and starting their families elsewhere. All common and expected topics. All topics our elected officials should held accountable to address during their time in public service.
Nonetheless, I never once had a person at their doorstep tell me that their top priority is tasking the Illinois State Police with the role of reviewing and systematically analyzing social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter to issue a Firearm Owners Identification card. This is to look for reasons to restrict access to an otherwise law-abiding citizens’ Constitutional rights — in this case, the Second Amendment. Nobody suggested that as a way to bring jobs back to Illinois, to keep our kids and grandkids here or to protect our biggest investments, our homes and families, or that this is in line with the priorities pressing our state.
However, now that legislators are filing their bills in Springfield, I see one of my Democratic colleagues must have heard a whole different message when he went door to door in Buffalo Grove, a suburb of Chicago on the edge of Cook County. That is the only explanation as to why Rep. Daniel Didech could have filed a bill requiring the Illinois State Police to do just that.
Surely, he must know that the processing time for a citizen seeking a FOID card is already delayed and is often in violation of state law. Surely, he must understand before each firearm purchase that background checks are performed. Surely, he must know that criminals do not follow laws passed by government bodies. If they did, they would not be criminals in the first place. Surely, most would conclude that the type of laws like Rep. Didech proposed in House Bill 888 create unnecessary bureaucracy, unacceptable delays and is an outrageous infringement on law-abiding citizens exercising both their Second and First Amendment rights. Right?!
* Rep. Daniel Didech (D-Buffalo Grove) responds…
When I decided to run to represent my hometown of Buffalo Grove in the Illinois House of Representatives, I promised that I would reach across the aisle and work in good faith with my colleagues throughout the state to move us forward in a cooperative manner. That’s why I accepted an invitation earlier this year to participate in the Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau’s “adopt-a-legislator” program. Even though I live in a suburban community with little farmland, I respect the critical role that farmers and the agriculture industry serve for Illinois’ economy, and I recognize the importance of listening to people whose life experiences may not perfectly align with those of my own.
After my community overwhelmingly chose to send me to Springfield, my mandate was clear: cut taxes for middle-class families, keep our schools safe, and work across the aisle to solve problems caused by years of fiscal mismanagement in Illinois. To that end, in addition to introducing legislation that would make our tax system fairer to low-income families, I introduced HB 888 to advance a conversation about the actionable steps we can take to improve public safety.
In an increasingly online world, we must have an open discussion about the tools law enforcement may use to keep our communities safe, and my intention is to continue that discussion so we can find the right balance that respects the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners while at the same time keeping our children safe from gun violence.
The first time I met Rep. Andrew Chesney, we had a productive dialogue about how we could partner to address many issues facing local governments. We discussed how my success consolidating redundant units of local government in Lake County could serve as a model for his prudent plan to eliminate Freeport Township. I was hopeful that this productive dialogue would also include our shared desire to keep our community, schools and places of worship free from violence.
However, I was disappointed to learn that instead of continuing our productive dialogue about how we could work together, Rep. Chesney quickly retreated to Bruce Rauner’s failed strategy of dividing and conquering our state. There is a reason why this tactic of pitting Chicago and its nearby villages against the rest of Illinois was so resoundingly rejected by the voters in last year’s election. When legislators focus on who can score the most political points instead of achieving our common goals, they lose sight of how our most vulnerable neighbors – children, senior citizens, people with disabilities – are the ones who pay the price.
I agreed to partner with the Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau because I am committed to working across the aisle with my colleagues to address the very serious problems that Illinois faces after four years of relentless partisan bickering. In that same spirit, I would like to invite Rep. Chesney to join me in Buffalo Grove to attend a meeting of our local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization that believes in both the Second Amendment and reducing the risk of gun violence.