GENEVA – About a dozen constituents of the 14th Congressional District met Monday with U.S. Rep. Randy Hulgren, R-Winfield, seeking his support for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as universal background checks.
Jess Chipkin, 59, of Huntley, started an online petition seeking like-minded constituents to sign on. The group brought nearly 400 signatures to Hultgren’s district office in Geneva.
“I appreciated the fact that the congressman gave us 45 minutes,” Chipkin said. “I don’t think anything really changed. The congressman said twice that he might be open to a ban on very specific kinds of guns, but it would not be absolute.”
Hultgren’s communications director Joshua Wessell said the congressman supports the Second Amendment, but will consider any bills that come out of the U.S. Senate.
“The senate is taking on gun proposals on piecemeal basis, issue by issue. He will wait and see what comes,” Wessell said. “He told the constituent group this morning [that] he will take a look at whatever comes out of the Senate. He is happy to look for areas of common ground, but fundamentally, there is just going to be a difference of opinion.”
Rather than gun control, Hultgren advocated more funding in Illinois for mental health services, Wessell said.
“The congressman supported that strongly when he was a member of the General Assembly, particularly community health centers in Elgin and Aurora,” Wessell said. “They do a tremendous job. They should be supported. Illinois ranks fairly low in state investment in mental health.”
But Chipkin disagreed with Hultgren’s message refocusing on mental health.
“His arguments are in denial that there is an in-your-face relationship between guns and murder rates,” Chipkin said.
Geneva resident John Rice said he was unsure whether the constituents swayed Hultgren.
“It’s good for constituents to build their case for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” Rice said. “He was kind of non-committal. His position is, he would like to see what could be done to enforce current laws.”
Rice said he tried to convey to Hultgren that assault rifles were designed for killing human beings on the battlefield. And if someone had come to Hultgren’s district office with an assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine, “we would not have a chance.”
“But if he had a 10-round magazine, he would have to stop and reload,” Rice said. “Then we would have a chance to overpower him.”