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Local

U.S. Rep. Kinzinger votes no on gun measures

Congressman says bill infringes on rights, does little to resolve violence

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon

The U.S. House passed two bills last week intending to bolster background checks on firearms purchases.

Both bills drew “no” votes from U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, who represents the 16th Congressional District, which includes DeKalb, Genoa, and the rest of the western two-thirds of DeKalb County.

Kinzinger said Wednesday’s resolution was well-intended, but it failed to produce meaningful legislation that would reduce gun violence.

On Thursday, the House approved legislation to allow a review period of up to 10 days for background checks on firearms purchases.

Democrats led passage, 228-198, with a handful of defections and scant Republican support. The bill stems from the 2015 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, where nine black worshippers died at the hands of a white supremacist. A faulty background check allowed the gunman’s firearm purchase after the required three-day review period expired.

On Wednesday, the House approved legislation requiring federal background checks for all gun sales and transfers, including those sold online and at gun shows. A handful of Republicans crossed over to join Democrats in approval.

Under current law, only licensed gun dealers are required to conduct a background check for someone seeking to obtain a gun.

There are exceptions.

The background check does not apply to transfers between close relatives. A firearm also could be lent to someone using it at a shooting range or for the purposes of hunting under certain circumstances, among others.

Kinzinger believed the resolution eroded the rights of law-abiding citizens with little gain.

“As a gun owner, I know the issues we face in protecting our Second Amendment rights while also protecting the security and well-being of our communities,” the congressman said in a statement. “But [House Resolution] 8 would do little to curb illegal firearm transactions, and it would not have stopped the mass shootings in Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Pulse nightclub, Las Vegas and others.

“This legislation does not tackle the very real institutional failings that have led to these tragedies, and it prevents law-abiding citizens from accessing firearms for self-defense while doing nothing to penalize or deter criminals from engaging in gun violence.

“The American people deserve better than this, and I’m committed to common-sense measures that improve the safety of law-abiding citizens, fix our systematic flaws and still protect our constitutional rights.”

In October 2017, Kinzinger led an effort to have the Department of Justice and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms re-evaluate the classification of bump-stock devices under current federal law, and ultimately decide that such mechanisms have no place in civil society.

Kinzinger also co-sponsored legislation in March 2018, an act applying penalties to government agencies for not reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Both bills face dim prospects in the Republican-controlled Senate and veto threats from President Donald Trump, who said they would impose unreasonable requirements on gun owners.

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