Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: Dick Durbin vs. the NRA

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sen. Dick Durbin wrote an Op-ed for today’s Chicago Tribune, calling for new gun regulations after Friday’s murder of 20 children at a grade school in Connecticut. Writes Durbin: 

    We must institute reasonable, common-sense limits, such as barring those with a history of mental instability, those with a history of violent crime or adjudged dangerous and subject to restraining orders, and those whose names have been placed on a terrorist watch list from owning weapons.
    And those "straw purchasers" who are literally fencing for drug gangs as well as the gun dealers who look the other way must be dealt with firmly.
    Certain classes of weapons that are strictly military and have no useful purpose in sport, hunting or self-defense should not be legally sold.
    Magazine clips with more than 10 rounds should be prohibited from civilian use.
    No one should be allowed to purchase more than two firearms a month.
    And those who own firearms that are within the reach of children should have protective locks on their weapons.
    What holds us back are political organizations that are well-funded, well-organized and determined to resist even reasonable limitations. There is a close political parallel between the gridlock in Washington on dealing with our economy and national debt and the eerie silence in Congress as the list of horrific gun crimes grows by the day.
    That “well-funded, well-organized” political organization is the National Rifle Association, no ally of Durbin’s. In 1994, as a congressman representing Central Illinois, Durbin voted in favor of the assault weapons ban. As a senator, he has an “F” rating from the NRA, for these votes, among others: 
    • No on allowing firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains. (Bill passed, 63-35.) 
    • No on prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers. (Bill passed, 65-31.) 
    • Yes on background checks at gun shows. (50-50 tie broken in bill’s favor by Vice    President Al Gore.) 
    • No on tabling an amendment making it unlawful for manufacturers to sell handguns without trigger locks. (Motion passed, 61-39.)
    As a congressman running for re-election in 2008, Sen. Mark Kirk also earned an F from the NRA, making him the only Illinois Republican to receive less than A-. Kirk was not in Congress in 1994, but his mentor, John Porter, on whose staff he once served, was one of the few Republicans to vote for the assault weapons ban.

     

    This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $9.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.