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It’s just a bill

Tuesday, Feb 5, 2019

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

22 Comments »
  1. - Nonbeleiver - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:36 pm:

    There may be something I don’t understand but going into Facebook and Twitter accounts is a ‘Bridge Way to Far’

    Indeed this whole issue give ‘ammo’ to those who don’t want any type of gun registration as it appears that State is overreaching and becoming more of a big brother .

    Now getting a search warrant to check Facebook or Twitter is another matter. I would approve of that.


  2. - Montrose - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    I have this mental image of each of them sitting down with a quill and scroll, writing their careful responses to each other and sending it galloping off via courier. I do hope this exchange continues and results in a bound edition of their correspondence appearing at the local book seller.


  3. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:53 pm:

    == To that end, in addition to introducing legislation that would make our tax system fairer to low-income families==

    Um, where’s the bill? (Nothing of this sort listed on the GA website…)


  4. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:55 pm:

    –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?!–

    I started fading out during Chesney’s aimless wandering around the barn — who’s Surely?

    You know, you could have saved a lot of time and maudlin prose by just writing “Chicago bad, guns good.”


  5. - Shemp - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:59 pm:

    If it’s publicly available stuff that is posted, I don’t see the issue, but if it’s pouring through content that is not fully open to the public, that’s an issue. No sane person wants a nut with a gun. Of course, defining who is a nut is always subjective….


  6. - illini - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:01 pm:

    “Now getting a search warrant to check Facebook or Twitter is another matter. I would approve of that.”

    Getting a search warrant to look at at Facebook page ??? Where are these people coming from?


  7. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:16 pm:

    ==or that this is in line with the priorities pressing our state==

    I would guess making sure a lunatic doesn’t have a gun would also be a priority.

    I don’t doubt that the task of reviewing FB and other social media is probably beyond the scope of what ISP would be able to do. Still, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to look at what people are posting on FB and other social media. You can learn a lot about a person by the garbage they post out there.


  8. - The Dude Abides - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    I’m all for sensible gun regulations to insure that there are background checks regardless of where a gun is purchased and doing more to insure that those with mental illness don’t have access to firearms.
    This bill just just government overreach. I need to know more. Some guy working for the ISP thinks a guy sounds a little hostile on one of his Facebook posts and decides that they will strip him of his right to own a gun? Is there an appeal process in this? When I post on Facebook, which isn’t often, I post things that only my Facebook friends can see and sometimes I just select certain friends, not all of them. Unless it’s a topic that I put out there for everyone who has a Facebook account to see go knock your self out but there would be a successful court challenge if the ISP would want to see non public posts. This is just government overreach and not the most viable way for the ISP to make the most of their limited resources.


  9. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:26 pm:

    === Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization that believes in both the Second Amendment and reducing the risk of gun violence. ===

    It’s fine and dandy if they don’t but I have a hard time believing the organization is a big believer in the second amendment. It’s one of those things anti-gun orgs need to say in order to sound reasonable. I just went to their website and saw nothing on it about preserving the second amendment. Again, it’s fine whatever their position is, but let’s not pretend they are second amendment advocates.


  10. - Skirmisher - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    Rep. Didech would seem to have low regard for the 1st Amendment as well as the 2nd. Is that really the norm in Chicagoland??


  11. - OneMan - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    == The Department of State Police shall conduct a search of the purchasers’ social media accounts available to the public to determine if there is any information that would disqualify the person from obtaining or require revocation of a currently valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. ==

    That seems to be the proposed change.

    The first question would be, what ‘information’ in a social media account would disqualify someone from getting a FOID or keeping a FOID? Would it be a direct threat of violence in the physical world? So if someone, when they were 17, said they want to frag a guy in Call of Duty is that a disqualifying event. If you like something that shows an illegal act is that disqualifying? How about sharing a clip from a movie of an illegal act? Is someone seeming to be a ‘nut job’ in their twitter feed enough?

    Would the state police be expected to review 37,479 tweets from Rich before he got or renewed his card? That would be almost 10.5 hours of work for someone just to review his tweets assuming they reviewed one every second. How much you gonna pay these people to review this stuff, how much are you going to have to charge an applicant to make this revenue neutral?

    Are people expected to report their own social media accounts or is the state going to have to figure out which Rich Miller from Springfield is the right one?

    “social media accounts available to the public” What does this mean? Does this mean truly public, so if your twitter account is set to private is it not reviewed? If you set your twitter account private the day you send in your FOID can they use google and other search tools to try and find your old stuff?

    There are people who have been on facebook for close to 15 years, you going to go that far back in time?

    This is one of those nice ideas that doesn’t seem to have been thought out.


  12. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:43 pm:

    ===Rep. Didech would seem to have low regard for the 1st Amendment===

    I think what he’s getting at here are the truly awful and threatening posts on social media, particularly on Facebook.

    Ferreting out those for every FOID application could cost a gigantic bundle.

    However, if you post something clearly threatening on social media, your FOID card should be pulled. It’s not much different than making a threat over the phone. So, maybe make it reactive and not proactive.


  13. - grand old non-partisan - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    All the information that ISP needs to determine FOID card eligibility under current law is a matter of public record. There is absolutely no reason to conduct a social media review as part of the application or renewal process.

    This proposal amounts to a pre-emptive “red flag” petition, which is why so many gun owners find it so troubling. It has the feeling of a government going to extraordinary lengths to find reasons to deny someone their constitutional rights without just cause.


  14. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:56 pm:

    ==to deny someone their constitutional rights without just cause.==

    You ever perused FB and seen some of the comments out there?


  15. - Blue Dog Dem - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:12 pm:

    The FOID card thing really doesnt keep us safer. IMO.


  16. - JJJJJJJJJJJ - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:23 pm:

    As far as I can tell some of the backlash regarding HB0888 comes from a very strange assumption of privacy on social media. The bill only regards what people already make public. I’m not sure why we wouldn’t give police the ability to use that in decision making.


  17. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:26 pm:

    == I’m not sure why we wouldn’t give police the ability to use that in decision making.==

    Police already utilize FB to catch criminals.


  18. - grand old non-partisan - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:32 pm:

    “JJJJJJJJJJJ” - it could also have to do with an completely reasonable assumption that the government should not be “reviewing” one constitutionally protected activity (speech) in order to determine if a person should be allowed to engage in another constitutionally protected activity (gun ownership), barring some just cause (such as a formal complaint from another citizen).


  19. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    “Police already utilize FB to catch criminals.”

    Yes, but if a “criminal” tries to apply for or renew a FOID card (assuming they would even bother), the existing background check system would catch it. This is about reviewing the speech of private citizens for undefined “warning signs” that might preclude them from exercising a constitutional right. Can you really not see how that is problematic?


  20. - Todd - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:42 pm:

    Rich –

    this is where gun guys/gals just quit believing anything the other side has to say.

    They want the State Police, who can’t process FOID cards on time as it is, to start looking at social media of 250,000 applicants a year. Where is the money goign to come from for that? how long are gun owners suppose to endure a delay in being able to exercise their rights?

    Illinois has for 20 years had the clear and present danger provision in the FOID Act. it has been used selectively, and juduicously over time. But that wasn’t good enough and we had to have red flag laws with exparte actions and loose your guns till you can afford a hearing and attorney.

    So now this looks to be just another way for the otherside to try and proactively look for excuses to point the finger at someone and claim danger/crazy whatever.

    It is the symptom of why the gun guys are willing less and less to sitdown and even talk about a compromise. One side sees a right to be respected and the other side sees a privledge to be handed out only if you hire the right property tax attorney in Cook County.

    People can and do say things on social media that get taken out of context and used against them for no other reason — I know. And then some say some truely vile things to others there. I’ve always believed that the answer to awful speech is more speech. Not less, not curtailing it, driving it underground.

    We have seen celebraties make awful even vile posts about this president and prior ones. If it raises to the level and the Secret Service thinks so, they get a visit and talking to to assertain the intents. a far cry from being forced to disclose any social medai account one may use, even an alias as many of your readers use, for a proactive look into your humor, politics, worries and joys.

    thats scary. Franklin was right. . . .


  21. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 7:47 pm:

    “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.”

    This type of ignorant attitude typifies the insider Klan aspect which and encourages local government corruption in Illinois. If Rep. Chesney seriously thinks that northwest Illinois is some sort of fairy-tale repository of “heartland” values where people are more wonderful and good than anywhere else, wake up.

    Current Whiteside county Sheriff John Booker was a lieutenant in charge of patrol when he dispatched off-duty deputy Jeffrey Wunderlich on a call that ended up in the death of citizen Bill Damhoff. Wunderlich still has a job, and Booker becomes Sheriff? I bet most of the denizens of Whiteside county would welcome Facebook scrutiny of gun buyers, they want a big brother figure like Booker to “protect” them, so they don’t have to think.


  22. - Grandpa2 - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 11:16 pm:

    Anonymous @7:47 must have bet big on the other horse in the recent Sheriff’s election.


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