Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Celebration One: HB48 Down in Flames

It looks like private sales (such as they are) will continue in Illinois. HB0048 has been defeated. Last year, the All-Powerful Gun Lobby (APGL) managed to convince two formerly reliable anti-gun votes--Democrat legislators representing urban districts in Chicago--to vote against the bill, which deadlocked it 58 votes to 58. 60-56 would have passed it, so that was a squeaker.

This year, the tally was 55-60 with one abstaining, which I personally consider 55-61. I don't even know who abstained yet, but you can bet it wasn't a pro-gun legislator trying to hide out on this one. By my math, that means we picked up a minimum of 3-4 votes this year. That's a huge deal in Illinois, and I'd like to take a moment to harp on something I talk about all the time: the DemonRATS vs. the ReTHUGlicans. There may be states where that dichotomy makes sense, but Illinois is not one of them. Illinois is a state where the main divide is between urban legislators of both parties and "downstate" legislators of both parties. There are 70 Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives, but only 48 Republicans. Since it takes 60 votes to pass a bill, that means that if the Democrats can arrange a party-line vote, they can pass anything they want. They can even give up nine or 10 votes on a given bill and pass it anyway; there's nothing the Republicans can do about it. So in Illinois, when a bad bill like this one goes down, we owe that fact to a lot of Democrats.

The really interesting thing to check on will be the number of urban Democrats who voted against this bill. The urban vs. rural divide is very real in Illinois and the Democratic party, but that may be changing. I suspect urban lawmakers are beginning to defect to the pro-gun side at least part of the time. If that trend continues, the anti-gun side in Illinois is in deeper trouble than I've thought. That's a process that would take time to show results, and those who demand instant success might not notice it . . . . but that kind of slow momentum is much harder to resist than the temporary flashes of public attention.

(In case anyone is wondering, the defeat of HB48 means that it will still be legal to sell or give a gun privately in Illinois--as long as both parties have valid FOID cards, a record is kept of those FOID cards, and both parties observe a 24-hour waiting period for long guns and a 72-hour waiting period for handguns.)