As Gov. Pat Quinn and other Illinois Democrats vow to pursue a statewide ban on assault weapons, some of those same guns were on sale Saturday at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
According to ads for the weekend event, some of the brands that could be affected by a state or federal ban could be purchased at the state-owned facility, including weapons made by Ruger, Glock and Beretta, the (Decatur) Herald & Review reported.
The event comes as officials who favor stricter gun control laws in other states are beginning to debate whether to ban the shows from public property. This weekend's show was organized by Centralia-based Egyptian Collectors Association Inc., which has rented space at the fairgrounds since 2008, the Herald & Review reported.
Illinois Democrats are pledging to press ahead with efforts for a state ban on assault weapons and tighter firearms restrictions in Chicago in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre last month. Legislation already has been filed in the state Senate that would restrict semiautomatic assault rifles and rapid ammunition feeders, despite similar, failed attempts in the final days of the past General Assembly's session earlier this month.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sent a proposal to the City Council on Thursday to double jail time to six months for anyone who fails to report guns that have been lost, stolen or sold.
In another Emanuel-backed measure, the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund board voted Thursday to liquidate its investments in gun manufacturers. The fund's $9.5 billion portfolio includes about $146,000 invested in Sturm Ruger & Co. and Smith & Wesson Holding Corp.
Speaking Saturday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors' annual meeting in Washington, Emanuel called on other city officials to follow Chicago's lead and sever ties with manufacturers.
"Mayors from across the country have firsthand knowledge of the damage these weapons cause in our communities, and there is no return on investment great enough to justify supporting the weapons manufacturers or dealers," Emanuel said, according to a news release from his office.
A city councilman in Tucson, Ariz., wants to make the city-owned convention center off limits to gun shows until the state or the federal government requires background checks for every gun sale. Tucson was the site of a January 2011 mass shooting that killed six people and left then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 other people injured.
On the other side of the gun debate, a group called Guns Across America held rallies Saturday at state capitals around the country, including in Springfield. The event was dubbed Gun Appreciation Day.
The group's state coordinator for Illinois, Nathan Hoefs of Lincoln, said further gun restrictions are not needed. The Army veteran also said some weapons have been misunderstood, including the civilian versions of military rifles. He said those weapons are similar in appearance, but function differently.
"The ones we use in the military were definitely a little bit more advanced than the ones in the civilian world," he told WBBM radio. "... You put a body kit on a Ford Pinto, it doesn't make it a Ferrari."