Senator Don Harmon is calling on the gun-rights advocates and Gov. Bruce Rauner to do more to help state lawmakers and local communities curb gun violence and protect the children of Illinois.
Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, is chairman of a Senate subcommittee on firearms, which heard testimony Tuesday about legislation that would restore local governments’ right to control the types of weapons and ammunition allowed in their communities. Local control over such matters was taken away in 2013 when the state passed its concealed carry law.
As with so many other proposals designed to target gun violence and the illegal gun trade, gun-rights advocates are opposed to the measure.
“Kids are dying, and these products are causing it,” Harmon said. “It’s a crisis. Find a way to help us protect everyone, including law-abiding gun owners.”
Harmon, who favors greater accountability standards for gun dealers to stem the tide of illegal firearms flowing into Illinois, said that in the absence of Congressional action to deter gun violence and restrict access to weapons nationally, it’s up to state officials and local communities to protect residents themselves.
It’s not about taking rights away from law-abiding citizens who own and enjoy firearms, he added, acknowledging the state’s regional diversity when it comes to opinions about guns.
“In my time in Springfield I’ve evolved from someone who grew up in a house without guns to understanding my colleagues across the state who represent communities where guns are common and used responsibly. I respect them and the cultural differences more than I did when I started this job,” Harmon said.
“But kids are dying on our streets because there are too many guns, and we get no help from the gun lobby. I’m begging them to find a way to work with us rather than block our efforts and pay lip service to what we’re trying to do. We’ll protect law-abiding gun owners in the process, but we need them to help us put the bad guys out of business.”
Rauner this week signed Republican-backed legislation that increases criminal penalties for gun trafficking in Illinois. Harmon said the measure does not go far enough to curb gun violence, nor does it offer the local oversight that communities want.
He called on the governor – an ardent proponent of local control of government – to express support for local gun laws and statewide violence-prevention measures, and to do more to bring attention to the public health crisis that guns are causing in Illinois.
Harmon also appealed to gun-rights advocates to stop standing in the way of sensible restrictions that will protect people and that polling consistently shows the majority of Americans want.
In Illinois, since 2013 the National Rifle Association and the Illinois State Rifle Association have objected to a host of legislation designed to reduce gun violence and protect potential victims. Proposals they’ve opposed include state licensing of gun and ammunition dealers, barring people on the terrorist watch list from obtaining FOID cards, creating a firearms registry, banning imitation and replica firearms, requiring gun owners to have liability insurance, creating a gun violence restraining order, strengthening the FOID card revocation process and barring the use of three-dimensional printers to create guns.
Meanwhile, just over halfway through 2016, gun violence in Chicago is on pace to eclipse last year’s statistics. More than 2,700 people have been shot in the city so far this year; in all of 2015 just under 3,000 people were shot.
Among the more than 50 victims of gunfire during the past weekend was an 8-year-old girl who was shot in the wrist as she attended a vigil for a 14-year-old boy who was shot and killed early Sunday in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, which is in Harmon’s legislative district.
“Meet us in the middle, for God’s sake,” Harmon said in a plea to gun-rights advocates. “How many children are going to have to die while the gun lobby stands by and watches?”
Yoga instructors in Illinois will be able to practice freely without state regulation under legislation sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) that was signed into law Friday.
Senate Bill 2743 garnered bipartisan support in the legislature as a pro-business measure that curbs government regulation where it’s unneeded.
“As we work to make Illinois a more business-friendly state, there’s simply no reason to impose unnecessary regulation on something like yoga instruction, which for most people is a personal pursuit or at most a small, independent business venture,” Harmon said.
The measure exempts yoga teacher training from state oversight as a trade, occupation, vocation or professional school. The legislation was prompted by news earlier this year that several yoga teacher training programs in Illinois were notified by the Illinois Board of Higher Education that they would be subject to state regulation as vocational schools and that they must obtain IBHE approval to operate in the state.
Representative Daniel Burke (D-Chicago) sponsored the measure in the Illinois House.
Businesses will find it easier to operate in Illinois under legislation sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) that was signed into law Thursday.
House Bill 4361 is a broad, comprehensive modernization of Illinois’ Limited Liability Company Act, which last was rewritten in 1994. The law had been updated in a piecemeal fashion since then, but it was due for a sweeping update.
The measure, which had bipartisan support in the legislature, is another effort to make Illinois a more business friendly state.
“This update to Illinois’ LLC Act not only modernizes some of our laws, it also eliminates unclear or contradictory rules that can be frustrating for companies to navigate,” Harmon said. “It makes our laws more consistent with those of other states and enables Illinois to be a more attractive and inviting place for businesses to set up shop.”
The legislation was the result of a six-year project by the Institute of Illinois Business Law to update the state’s LLC Act. The project was prompted by the 2006 publication of the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
Joliet attorney Michael Hansen is past chairman of the Institute of Illinois Business Law, a group of about 40 corporate lawyers in Illinois who oversee the state’s business and corporate laws.
“Limited liability companies are now the favored business entity,” he said. “The changes to the Act will mean the formation in Illinois of more LLCs, while still providing necessary protections to the members of the LLC.”
Representatives Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) and Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) sponsored the measure in the Illinois House.
Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) issued the following statement today regarding the death of Abner Mikva, a former congressman, federal judge, presidential adviser, lawyer, mentor and public servant from Chicago:
“For a man with perhaps the most impressive resume in politics, Abner Mikva was the kindest, most gracious and generous politician I’ve ever met.
“When I took his seminar on legislative process at the University of Chicago Law School, even at the end of his storied career, Ab’s enthusiasm for government and politics was contagious. He loved the process and he loved engaging young people in it.
“When I confessed my quiet interest in running for office, he said, “Do it. Don’t wait!” He was a great mentor and a wise counsel.
“Even in the last few months, he was pushing us hard to move forward on juvenile justice reform — all with a heart set on good policy and a keen appreciation for the evolving politics. He was a gentle giant and he will be missed by all he touched.”
Mikva died Monday in Chicago. He was 90.
Senator Don Harmon
President Pro Tempore
Years served: 2003 - Present
Committee assignments: Assignments (Vice-Chairperson); Executive (Chairperson); Judiciary; Committee of the Whole.
Biography: Attorney; born 1966, in Oak Park; graduated St. Ignatius High School; B.A., Knox College; J.D. and M.B.A., University of Chicago; married (wife, Teresa), has three children: Don, Frances, and Margaret.
Associated Representative(s): Kathleen Willis, Camille Y. Lilly