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Schneider Gun Panel Seeks Education, Action

Congressman gathers information at round table, reiterates commitment to second amend and reasonable gun control.

A realization something can be done to curb gun violence arose from a roundtable organized by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield) Thursday at the Wheeling Police Station amid an equal recognition the task will not be easy.

Schneider gathered seven stakeholders with different perspectives on the gun issue together to exchange ideas. He warned the effort would be a challenge but there was a sense from people in the room the time was right for a change.

“The nation has the will after Sandy Hook,” Jennifer Bishop Jenkins said. She heads the Illinois Chapter of the Million Mom March and is a long time gun control advocate. “Sandy Hook was like 9/11. It changed us.”

In addition to Jenkins, Schneider was joined by Wheeling Police Chief William Benson, North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham, Executive Director of Family First Center of Lake County Evelyn Chenier, business and gun owner Skip Robertson, Brady Campaign Board member Tom Vanden Berk of Highland Park and Nancy Carstedt, executive director of the National Alliance for Mental Illness of Cook County.

While Berk and Jenkins are moving ahead with issue advocacy and political action to combat the National Rifle Association and others who in their mind stand in the way of regulation of firearms, Schneider cautioned it will not be easy.

“Before us is an uphill march,” Schneider said to the group. “We have to stay on message. We won’t get this overnight,” he added of his hope to have universal background checks and control of gun trafficking.

Berk has already started a political action committee to support candidates who embrace his ideas as well as work against candidates who oppose reasonable control of firearms. “I have a PAC,” he said. “We’re going to get involved in a number of campaigns.”

Schneider made it clear he couples his advocacy for an assault weapons ban, increased background checks and other controls with support for the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“We’re not going to take guns away,” Schneider said. “But, the nation is ready for a conversation. Forty percent of guns are sold without being checked and there is no federal law that would make gun trafficking illegal. Hopefully we can take some steps.”

Registration of guns is another position Berk advocates. “Every gun starts out legally,” he said. “What happens is they become illegal because there is no consistent enforcement or registration. Every person who purchases a gun is responsible.”

When it comes to gun registration, Benson is another proponent. “It’s a noticeable problem when you are required to register your bike or your dog but not your gun,” he said. He believes the answer is federal legislation.

Others talked about how the Sandy Hook shootings also put a spotlight on the correlation between mental health and gun access. Carstedt believed part of the solution is for people to look at mental illness as a disease no different than cancer or heart disease.

“There is stigma attached (to mental illness), Carstedt said. “Some people will not get treatment because they are ashamed.” 

McCloud February 05, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Sure, no to stimulus, cash for clunkers, real estate tax credits, debt ceiling increase, tax increases, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, all have been so successful we now have 8.5 million less people in the work force since Democrat in white house, 1% GDP, 23 million plus unemployed, and massive national debt to bury any hope. Unfortunately the No vote did not get enough votes.
Abigail February 05, 2013 at 02:05 AM
My comment was not meant to be antisemetic, even though those of you looking for a reason to slam someone with a differing opinion took it that way. (Bonus for you, I guess.) Far be it for any of you to admit that I am right. I would love to see the statistics on what percentage of Jewish voters did vote for Schneider and why. Is it because he is a Democrat, or because he is Jewish too, or both? Obviously, Bob Dold didn't have a chance of winning considering the odds were against him from the day Schneider won the primary. Whatever the case, he would not have won otherwise.
Abigail February 05, 2013 at 02:09 AM
For comparison, what is the percentage of blacks who voted for Obama? Can any of you honestly say it's because they felt he is the better candidate for president? I think not. Obviously, the 90+% percentage of blacks who voted for Obama did so because he is black. I think the same argument can be attributed to how Schneider was elected. So, instead of calling me names like bigot and anti-semite, etc., etc., why don't you prove me wrong with facts? Oh, that's right, you can't!
Sandra Sims February 05, 2013 at 03:54 AM
Except you yourself haven't presented any facts. Just your bigoted opinion that all Jews will vote for a Jew, cause, ya know, that's how they are. But nah, you're not bigoted at all. Again, you're a walking stereotype. The Stupid Party, indeed.
Abigail February 05, 2013 at 04:07 AM
Come on, Sandra, don't attack me--prove me wrong!! If you're right, it should be easy for you!!

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