State Senate committee approves gun measures

January 03, 2013 at 08:33 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — An Illinois Senate committee approved restrictions Wednesday on semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, despite criticism from gun-rights groups that the measures go too far and amount to an assault-weapons ban “on steroids.”

The proposals were approved on party-line votes Wednesday. Supporters said they will have a tougher sell in the full Senate, where more downstate Democrats are more pro-gun.

One measure would ban the possession, delivery, sale and transfer of semiautomatic handguns and rifles. People who currently own such weapons could keep them but would have to register them. The bill would allow semiautomatic weapons to be used at shooting ranges, but those facilities would be regulated.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde told lawmakers the bill would restrict about 75 percent of handguns and 50 percent of long guns in circulation today. He also said it would treat law-abiding gun owners like criminals, and is in conflict with Second Amendment rights upheld by the courts.

The second proposal would limit ammunition magazines and other “ammunition feeding devices” to 10 or fewer rounds. A similar measure received Senate approval in 2007, but the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dan Kotowski, downplayed the idea that a separate effort on shells stood a better chance of passage than the ban on weapons.

Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has called for an assault-weapons ban.