It’s now the time of year when legislators across the country are filing the paperwork proposing new laws which all law-abiding citizens must attempt to follow. Most of these proposed laws will wither on the vine, dying in endless committee meetings or stalemated by the efforts of determined opposition. Relatively few of them get the chance to be voted on by the general assemblies of our states, and only the smallest percentage will ever see a governor’s desk. It can be useful, and sometimes amusing, to see what laws are proposed but never passed. This gives us an idea of what legislators would really like to pass, if they had no opposition to stop them. In the Illinois House of Representatives, Representative Edward Acevedo, a Chicago Democrat, has proposed three new laws for the 2012 session. Lets take a quick look at what laws this typical anti-gun politician will create this year if he gets his way.
The first proposed law is HB 1855, and it makes me angry. HB 1855 empowers the State of Illinois to revoke the Firearm Owner’s Identification Card of any person who fails to report the loss or theft of a handgun within 72 hours of becoming aware of that loss or theft. If HB 1855 becomes law, Illinois citizens have three days to tell police that a pistol was lost or stolen, or they lose their FOID card. So what? Well, you can’t possess any firearms or even live ammunition without that FOID card, or they will charge you with unlawful use of weapons. That’s a felony in Illinois and worth one to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. So, let’s recap. Your home was broken into on Saturday and totally ransacked. In the confusion of trying to deal with the insurance company, clean up the place, repair the damage, and still make it to your day job on time, you forget to report that your pistol was stolen until Wednesday afternoon. Under HB 1855, the state will now prosecute you for not telling authorities that you were the victim of a crime quickly enough. Upon conviction you will lose your FOID card and 2nd Amendment rights as long as you live in Illinois. Also, you could go to jail for one to three years if the police ever catch you with any guns or ammo in your possession. This is the sort of thing Chicago politicians like to call a “reasonable restriction.” The second proposed law is HB 1924, and it should sound pretty familiar by now. After it is signed into law, Illinois residents will have 90 days to provide proof of ownership such as a bill of sale or a receipt for each semi-automatic assault weapon, assault weapon attachment, any .50 caliber rifle, and any .50 caliber cartridge. Oh, and any large capacity ammunition feeding device holding more than 10 rounds of ammo. If you cannot provide proof of ownership, you have to turn it in. After the 90 days is will be illegal to sell, buy, possess, deliver, or manufacture any of those items, too. Got a high capacity mag or a .50 cal round without proof of ownership? It’s a class 3 felony, with two to five years imprisonment for a first offense. You might remember that Springfield Armory, Armalite, LMT, Rock River Arms, and Les Baer told the state legislature last year that they would leave the state and take their jobs with them if such a law passed, since it would become illegal for them to manufacture most of their products. Apparently the loss of many of Illinois’ largest tax paying businesses isn’t much of a concern to Mr. Acevedo, who is going to try again to pass HB 1924 this year.
The third bill filed by Representative Acevedo is HB 1599—if it wasn’t proposed in all seriousness it would have me rolling on the floor laughing; okay, I admit, I’m laughing anyway—which would increase the penalties by one class (more years in jail) for possessing a semi-automatic assault weapon or, get this, high-capacity ammunition. What the heck is high-capacity ammunition? How do I know when I have high-capacity ammunition? Can I have just one round of high-capacity ammunition, or does it become high-capacity ammunition when I have more rounds of ammo than I can count on my fingers and toes? Well, I dug through the text of HB 1599 until I got to the definitions section. There it was, spelled out near the end of the text, and I quote:
“High capacity ammunition” means ammunition of 50 or more caliber
By 50 or more caliber, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume Representative Acevedo means any cartridges of half an inch diameter or more. Most likely, he means .50 BMG ammunition or larger, because Chicago politicians have been obsessed with banning the big .50 for years. However, definitions matter quite a lot when the time comes to enforce the peoples’ laws. Can you think of any other cartridges more than half an inch in diameter? How about every shotgun round larger than .410? If this law passes, possession of a single round of 28-, 20-, 16-, 12-, or 10-gauge ammunition, even birdshot, would violate the high capacity ammunition law and result in a felony conviction and a year or more in jail sentence.
I know Mr. Acevedo is very serious about passing HB 1599 and I’m sure he will argue as strongly as possible for its consideration. Because I’m an optimist by nature, I’m going to assume that as an elected representative Mr. Acevedo does not actually intend to sentence every skeet and trap shooter in Illinois to jail time. Instead, I’m going to be kind and assume he thinks his law will get rid of big scary guns which he has been told can shoot down airliners and turn an elephant inside out from a mile away. Although his pipe dream HB 1599 will not pass due to the strenuous efforts of pro-gun groups fighting hard for their rights in Illinois, it still accomplishes two things. First, it exposes the ignorance of anti-gun legislators, showing us how little they actually know about firearms and how careless they are in wording their proposed regulations. And second, it gives the rest of us something to point and laugh at.