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House pulls plug on gun-control measures: “We didn’t think we had the votes”
SPRINGFIELD-Add gun-control legislation to the growing legislative scrap heap for what thus far has been a lame lame-duck session.
Citing a lack of support, the House sponsor of bans on military-style weapons — dubbed “assault weapons” by critics — and the high-powered ammunition that feeds them decided Sunday not to call either measure for a vote in his chamber.
Those same bills stalled last week in the Senate.
“Since we felt we didn’t have enough overwhelming support in the Senate, we were worried about having the support in the House,” state Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago), chief House sponsor of both bills, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
The House convened for its part of the lame-duck session Sunday and is scheduled to remain until Tuesday, the final full day of this General Assembly’s two-year term. The bills were scheduled to be heard in committee Sunday until the plug was pulled on both.
The Senate has scheduled a return to Springfield on Tuesday to deal with anything the House might pass, but it’s an open question of whether there will be anything of substance for the Senate to act upon.
“We didn’t want to call it if we didn’t think we had the votes, and we really don’t know today if the Senate is coming back Tuesday,” Acevedo said. “Time is so limited, I didn’t want to lay any of my colleagues out.”
State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), one of the House’s leading gun-rights advocates, said he was surprised the gun bills weren’t called even though he thinks a majority of House members were spooked by the expansive nature of the legislation, which he said could affect as many as 85 percent of all guns.
“It’s just too broad and covers way too many guns,” Phelps said. “The way I’ve heard from other people, they’re not sitting down negotiating this bill. They’re just throwing something out there to see if this sticks.”
Beyond guns, sponsors of legislation to legalize gay marriage folded up shop last week after being unable to put together a 30-vote roll call in the Senate. A push to legalize medicinal use of marijuana also has been scrapped.
The major items still on the House agenda are a package to cut pension benefits for government workers and legislation to grant undocumented immigrants state driving permits.
Contributing: Zach Buchheit