051905br1732-smallrsOver the past few months, I have been focusing a lot on our Second Amendment rights. There have been numerous events that have occurred during this time that will impact gun owners in Illinois, and I wanted to make sure they are aware of the details and events that may affect their Second Amendment rights.

Back in December, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s ban on carrying a weapon in public is unconstitutional and gave lawmakers 180 days to pass a concealed-carry bill. The 2-1 decision was a huge win for gun rights advocates, who have argued that the ban on concealed weapons violates the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment and what they see as citizens' right to carry guns for self-defense.

The process of crafting a concealed-carry bill has already started. As you may have heard, Representative Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) introduced the Family and Personal Protection Act, which would allow licensed residents to carry a handgun on them or in their vehicle. The bill does have some restrictions on where license-holders may carry guns without written permission and requirements, including: applicants to be at least 21 years old, have a Firearm Owner’s Identification card and proof of National Rifle Association or equivalent firearms training. Applicants also must pass a criminal background check and have no documented history of mental illness or alcohol abuse.

The most recent events occurred on Thursday. House Speaker Mike Madigan set dates for two public hearings later this month to focus on concealed-carry legislation, and Senate President John Cullerton named Sen. Kwame Raoul as his point person on gun control legislation. I plan to work with Senator Raoul on concealed carry, but one thing to keep in mind: concealed carry will be legal regardless of whether Chicago politicians decide to introduce their own legislation.  

During my time as your state senator, I have always fought to protect your right to bear arms and I will continue to do so throughout this process. I look forward to keeping you updated as we work toward crafting concealed-carry legislation.

Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

051905br1732-smallrsUp until a recent ruling by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Illinois had a prohibition on carrying a concealed weapon in public, making it the only state without some form of concealed carry. In response to that ruling, activists on both sides of the issue, members in the General Assembly and the general public have been engaged in discussions about what type of legislation should be created. And while these discussions can sometimes leave people frustrated or upset, I think they are extremely vital in educating people on firearms and necessary if we are going to craft responsible legislation.

Guns were a part of my life growing up; I began hunting at a young age and have owned many different types of firearms throughout my life. I can’t say the same for many of my colleagues in Springfield. That is why I have worked hard to educate other members on gun ownership and use, especially members who did not grow up in a rural community. Too often we interact with people who have a negative attitude toward guns or gun owners, simply because they have no experience with firearms or an understanding of the culture surrounding guns. There are many folks who are not aware of the different ways in which gun owners use their firearms or even how a firearm works. That is why it is our duty as responsible gun owners to inform others about the important aspects of owning and operating a firearm.

Earlier this week, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon announced that 15 freshman members of the General Assembly will be part of a new Firearms Working Group created to help bridge the geographical divide on gun ownership and use in Illinois. The working group includes Republicans and Democrats who represent urban, suburban and rural districts. My hope is that at the end of the working group, these newly elected members have a better informed viewpoint on firearms and new ideas that will help craft legislation aimed at promoting gun ownership. While it may not sway them to support a concealed-carry bill, they will at least have a better understanding of firearms when voting on legislation that affects gun owners.

I will always fight to protect your constitutional right to bear arms. And I will continue to stand by Southern Illinois hunters and all Illinois’ law-abiding citizens to work on reasonable legislation that promotes and protects our rights. But I encourage you to get involved with the discussion – whether that means talking to a neighbor, a stranger or an elected official.

Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

The governor’s office announced last week that Illinois prisons are preparing to once again introduce an early-release program.

The new program will replace one that was shut down a few years ago after The Associated Press reported that nearly 2,000 participants in the program, some of whom were violent offenders, were serving only a few days or weeks behind prison walls.

The ending of the severely flawed program caused an immediate influx in the state prison population, forcing the system to house more than 49,000 inmates in prisons designed to hold only 33,000.

In the meantime, the governor’s office began a series of closures to state prisons, juvenile detention centers and halfway houses.  I have said repeatedly that it makes no sense to shutter facilities when there is already a significant problem with overcrowding in our prisons, but that’s exactly what the governor did.

Now, to add insult to injury, the governor is re-enacting an early-release program in an attempt to combat the overcrowding issue – an issue that ending the last program created.

I still believe that it was the wrong decision to close a state-of-the-art prison like Tamms. It forced our correctional system to cram more inmates into other, already overcrowded, century-old prisons and let criminals go early. This policy seems more like a recipe for disaster.

Given the Quinn administration's disregard for the safety of employees and inmates through these reckless closures and the security concerns stemming from overcrowding and inadequate guard-to-inmate ratios, I am very worried that using this program as a Band-Aid to fix a much larger problem will do far more harm than good.  

Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

Last week brought yet another defeat to Governor Quinn’s plan to throw people out of their jobs by closing prisons, halfway houses and juvenile detention centers across the state.

An Illinois appellate court denied the governor’s latest request to toss out the restraining order that had kept open prisons in Tamms and Dwight, three halfway houses and a juvenile detention center.

While this news means these institutions are safe for now, the governor already promised to appeal and take his facility closure plan to the State Supreme Court.

In the meantime, 135 new corrections officers were just hired by the Department of Corrections in an attempt to maintain control over the severe overcrowding issues within our prisons.  A new class of corrections officers is a great step toward combating the safety problems stemming from overcrowding.  However, the influx in staffing will prove meaningless if the 

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Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

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