When members of the 113th Congress take their seats in January, one of the top items on their agenda very well could be a new look at federal gun control laws.
In the wake of the Newtown, CT, tragedy of one week ago today, President Obama on Wednesday set a January deadline for his administration to "create concrete proposals" to curb gun violence in the United States.
Obama also called on Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 to "pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity ammunition clips" and to "close a gun show loophole that allows people to purchase firearms from private dealers without a background check."
What will come of this renewed debate is yet to be seen, but what is certain is that congressional compromise will be essential to get anything done.
With that in mind, Patch this week reached out to all 10 of our newly elected congressman in the city and south and western suburbs and asked where they stand heading into this debate.
We thought this might be an opportunity for them to be clear to their constituents about how they plan to help solve the worsening problem of gun violence in our country.
What we found, however, is that only four wanted to answer our questions. The other six never returned our calls for comment.
Here's some of what the four who did contact us had to say:
Rep. Mike Quigley, 5th District
Congressman Quigley called on his colleagues Tuesday to take action and stand up to the gun lobby in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown.
Quigley said he has a long history of pushing for commonsense gun control reforms and has specifically called for closing the gun show loophole, banning high-capacity clips and examining the role of mental health in gun violence. He has introduced the Border Security Enhancement Act and the Trafficking Reduction and Criminal Enforcement (TRACE) Act, both of which would provide the ATF with the resources it needs to effectively combat illegal gun flow in America. Quigley also spearheaded the effort to file a “friend of the court” amicus brief, urging the Supreme Court to allow Chicago’s handgun ban to stand.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth, 8th District
The following is a statement released from the office of Rep.-elect Tammy Duckworth:
The tragedy in Connecticut last week further illustrates the need for reasonable bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. I come from a family that owns firearms and I fully respect the rights that the second amendment guarantees. It is time for reasonable, responsible gun ownership. It is time for members of both parties to come together and show the courage to enact policies that will protect our children.
Rep. Danny Davis, 7th District
In a short statement, Danny Davis told Patch he supports both a ban on assault weapons and on high capacity magazines or clips.
Rep. Bobby Rush, 1st District
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced a new task force on preventing gun violence Wednesday. Pelosi said the task force would work towards "restoring the assault weapons ban, strengthening the background check system and addressing mental health and violence issues, according to CNN.
Rep. Bobby Rush was one of the speakers at the press conference. He "urged immediate action, saying "we cannot allow the kindergartens of America to become killing fields," CNN reported.
Rush's son, Huey, was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 29.
NBC reported Rush was in Washington Tuesday to "re-introduce Blair's Bill, legislation he introduced after Blair Holt was killed on a bus in Chicago, that establishes a system to keep unlicensed guns out of people's hands."
The following are the Congressmen who did not return calls from Patch for comment.
Rep. Dan Lipinski, 3rd District
Discovering Dan Lipinski's stance on gun control issues is a difficult process. He never returned Patch's calls for comment and an internet search yields few clues. Lipinski did offer his condolences to the families of the victims in Newtown on his Facebook page, but that's as far as he appears to have gone.
His Facebook followers, glad to see his condolences, were also demanding action. One constituent posted back to Lipinski:
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, but when are we going to stand up to the NRA and have meaningful gun control in this country? How many more slaughters do we have to have?
He also received no response from the congressman.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, 4th District
Even though he did not return our calls for comment, last week, Gutierrez tweeted, "No words can describe this tragedy or the pain our nation feels. Let's resolve to keep kids safe from gun violence. # Connecticut # Chicago"
Gutierrez voted in favor of a ban on certain semiautomatic assault weapons in 1994.
Rep. Peter Roskam, 6th District
In the 2012 Rep. Peter Roskam received a 92 percent rating from the National Rifle Association and received $3,000 in campaign cash from the powerful lobbying group. It's little wonder why he didn't return our calls seeking comment on how he plans to work toward gun control in the new Congress.
Roskam's office wouldn't give him a straight answer either. This is a portion of the letter written by Ken Trantowski of Glen Ellyn.
On Monday morning I contacted the office of the Congressman Peter Roskam who represents the Sixth District of Illinois to learn his position regarding assault weapons ...
... You would think Congressman Roskam would be prepared to deal with such an inquiry after this tragedy. At least, I thought he would be able to respond, but that was NOT the case. In reply to my question, Jeff Ragsdale, a congressional assistant told me "You know, Congressman Roskam is pro-gun rights." He asked me to hold while he checked on the official position regarding assault weapons. After a brief wait he told me that he would send me an email later in the day.
I asked the congressional assistant if he knew whether Congressman Roskam would be willing to accept further donations from the NRA based on the terrible Newtown tragedy. He told me to call the Roskam re-election office and provided the telephone number. I called office and was directed to leave a message. Later in the day I received a call from David Rivera from the Roskam re-election office, and I posed my questions regarding future donations. Mr. Rivera asked me why I was calling this office, and I told him I was directed by the congressional assistant. He took my email address and said he would reply. As of this writing he has not replied. Later Congressional Assistant Jeff Ragsdale called me to report that he would NOT send me an email regarding my information request; but I would receive a letter at some unspecified date
Rep. Bill Foster, 11th District
Democrat Bill Foster is returning to Congress after a two-year absence and some serious redistricting. Getting a grip on where Foster stands on gun control is also a bit of a challenge.
An internet search turns up virtually nothing on the subject, or even a statement regarding last Friday's tragedy. One constituent turned to Foster's Facebook page for some answers, writing the congressman-elect a letter with some very direct questions including:
(a) Your views on loss of innocent lives due to gun violence.
(b) What actions have you taken in past towards this issue.
(c) Would you be willing to support repeal of or modifications to the second amendment and setup a government fund to buy back all automatic assault weapons? If not, why?
(d) What other legislative changes, aimed at reducing gun violence, would you propose in the next quarter?
This questioner is still awaiting a response from Foster, as is Patch.
Rep. Randy Hultgren, 14th District
Like Roskam, Rep. Randy Hultgren has earned high marks from the NRA with a 92 percent rating and a $2,000 campaign donation in 2012. Also like Roskam his silence on the issue of gun control since Newtown has been deafening.
Hultgren's office did not return our calls for comment. His office also hasn't been returning messages left my constituents on the Congressman's Facebook page. Several have asked where he stands or for even a simple statement, but none has been provided.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, 16th District
Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger has been a strong advocate for the Second Amendment. On his campaign website, Kinzinger writes "As a member of the National Rifle Association and the Illinois State Rifle Association, I will be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment." He also received a $2,000 donation from the NRA in 2012.
If he's moderated his viewpoint in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, it's impossible to tell. Kinzinger did not return Patch's call for comment. He has at least acknowledged the tragedy on his Facebook, pointing constituents to where they can direct condolences. Questions on gun control, however, from fans of his page, have gone ignored.
If we should hear back from any of the newly elected congressmen, we'll be sure to update this article.