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Why I Oppose HB0899 & HB0174 — Penalties for Stolen Guns

I oppose HB0899 and HB0174, of the 101st general assembly of Illinois. Each of these bills would create penalties, including felony charges, if your guns are lost or stolen repeatedly. Supporters of these bills say it is to combat straw purchase. Indeed even some gun owners who I know and trust believe gun owners should support these efforts. But I do not, and these are the reasons why.

First, let’s define each bill.  HB0174 increases the penalty for not reporting a firearm lost or stolen (repeatedly) from a misdemeanor to a felony.  Any “Reasonable” person would say it’s silly to NOT report a lost or stolen gun; but it’s not that simple. HB0899 would cause an automatic revocation of your gun rights in Illinois through revocation of your FOID card if you were to report numerous thefts. It appears if both of these bills were to pass, you could be caught in a no win situation.

Second a little history lesson. Believe it or not, it wasn’t illegal to not report your gun lost or stolen in Illinois. Gabby Giffords group stepped into Illinois politics in 2013 and anti-freedom politicians proposed a change to the law. Under the guise of not wishing to sound “unreasonable”, there was very little fight from the pro gun groups and the bill passed easily. Then, and now, the supporters of these bills claim it is to combat straw purchasing, or illegally selling firearms to prohibited persons. When the bill passed the penalty was a misdemeanor.

Fast forward to 2019, HB0174 and HB0899 have been introduced.  As predicted the argument is made, “These laws aren’t working. We need stiffer penalties!”  This is and has always been the mantra of the anti freedom politicians wishing to restrict our rights… “More, More, More.”   Now that we’ve got the history lesson out of the way, let’s did into these bills and discuss why I oppose HB0899 & HB0174 — Penalties for Stolen Guns.

 

Why I Oppose HB0899 & HB0174 — Penalties for Stolen Guns

 

First let me go on the record and say that no “Reasonable” person wants violent individuals to be in possession of weapons.  But can you please introduce a bill which will punish criminals and not sweep up law abiding individuals with it?

Second lets address due process.   Our criminal justice system is based on the idea of due process. You are innocent until proven guilty. That certainly doesn’t always apply to gun owners, which is sad, In many cases simply being charged with a crime or suspect of a crime is enough to lose your gun rights.  This is one of those times. Gun owners are not second class citizens. We too are innocent until proven guilty.  We can’t throw that away. Proving your innocence can take years and will cost thousands.

Now let’s talk about broken trust and the war of attrition.  The anti freedom politicians have shown that they can NOT be trusted with the introduction of HB0174. They have shown that enough is never really enough. “We want a penalty for not reporting guns stolen.”  Gun owners sheepishly give the nod of approval.  The anti freedom politicians, relying on the seemingly gold fish scale memory of gun owners wait a few years and once again  want more. They say, “It’s not working. We need to stiffen the penalty if you fail to report your gun lost or stolen.”   Are we going to continue to allow them to take away our rights one small baby bite at a time?

The war of attrition which we are are in has been going on long before my birth. We have the NFA in 1934, the GCA in 1968, the FOID in 1968, and on and on and on. These are the big bites. Countless little bites such as HB0899 and HB0174 have been flung upon us year after year after year with little to no fight. We hear things like, “This isn’t the bill to fall on your sword.” or “We can’t expend too much political capital on this one.”, a small loss, but a loss none the less.  Look back at all those inches we have given up and you shall see we’ve given up miles.

We really can’t have this conversation without also discussing the countless contradictions from the anti freedom politicians.  The anti gun lobby says we need stiffer federal penalties because of lax gun laws from our neighbors. To that I retort, “Why don’t they have the violence problems, Chicago has, if their laws are so lax?”  The anti freedom politicians say, “We need gun state oversight through dealer licensing because of unscrupulous gun dealers selling guns to prohibited persons.” This is laughable, as gun dealers are already licensed on a federal level and doing so would cost them serious jail time.  But do you start to see the contradiction here?  Now we’re being told that straw purchasers are the problem.

Well, now I have to ask… Which one is it?!?

The largest elephant may be eaten whole, one bite at a time.

How can you placate a hungry alligator by offering only one finger? The alligator shall want your arm next, and won’t be satisfied until you are eaten whole.  That’s what we are up against. We’re fighting a hungry alligator who won’t be satisfied until they have complete civilian disarmament.

We as gun owners need to fight each and every single bill which “could” infringe on our rights.  I’ve drawn a line in the sand. They shall not pass. This bucket is full, more laws will not fit.  Bring “Reasonable” has gotten us in this mess.

Laws already exist to prevent someone from selling a gun to a prohibited person. Criminals don’t obey laws, and they continue to sell guns to prohibited persons. Will one more law make a sudden difference?  No, history has proven otherwise.  Again, criminals don’t obey laws.

If the criminal justice system would simply enforce the existing laws on the books, perhaps that would have an effect on violence.  In 2017, a mount prospect, IL woman who was convicted of MULTIPLE straw purchases to a prohibited person, a known gang member with a felonious record, received only 18 months PROBATION. Straw purchasing carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison per offense.  Why so lax? If the ruling class really did wish to stop violent crime, why wouldn’t they prosecute these straw purchasers?  We don’t need new laws. We need to actually enforce the laws on the books.

 

In closing we must fight each and every piece of legislation which imposes on our rights. The right to keep and bear arms, the right to due process, these are the foundation of our Nation.

 

Zulu Echo Romeo Oscar India November Charlie Hotel

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Thomas Kral

Thomas Kral is an avid gun rights advocate being involved in the movement in Illinois since 2012 and became one of the very first Concealed Carry instructors to be certified by the Illinois State Police in 2013.

Thomas is also a proud father and husband, having said, "The only things more important than 2nd Amendment issues and gun rights are my wife and kids."

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