No, instead they're calling Illinois legislators and telling them to support HB 48, the bill that abolishes what remain of private transfers of handguns in Illinois. HB 48 requires that anyone who sells, gives, or loans a handgun to anyone else in Illinois go to an FFL, transfer the gun to the FFL, have him call in the NCIS background check and hold the gun for the required waiting period, then transfer it to the new owner. Even worse, the FFL is mandated to do all this work and waiting for $10, so he's getting screwed just as hard as the buyer and the seller. Egalitarianism at its finest, you might say. Since these kids aren't from Illinois, it's possible that they don't understand what they're lobbying to do. Basically, they're asking to add another layer of background checks less extensive than the first layer Illinois already uses. Since they don't seem to think the first layer does much good (or don't even realize it's there) I'm not sure what they expect the second layer to do. For those unfamiliar with the Illinois system, all Illinois residents need a FOID card to purchase, own, use or possess firearms or ammunition of any kind. In order to get your FOID card, you submit all your personal information, which is used to run an extensive background check--mental health, criminal records, NCIS, all the rest--a process which currently averages around 70 days despite the time limit of 30 days set in the statute. Once you jump through all those hoops, your FOID is issued, but your name then goes into the pile of names that are checked daily to see if any matches come up with the aforementioned databases. If you match one of the naughty databases, your FOID will be revoked. This has not stopped Illinois from outpacing every contiguous state in violent crime, murder, and crimes committed with guns by a wide margin, but the thinking seems to be that if we just run the background check one more time, all that can change.
Frankly, I'm puzzled at this strategy. It seems to me that these kids could have made phone calls from their respective universities without traveling to Chicago for a week. Don't they have phone service in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. nowadays? I would have thought that the best reason to travel here for a week would have been to do something in person, but it looks like the only thing they're going to do in person is ride a bus to Springfield and lobby for another layer of background checks. I shouldn't be puzzled. This is the oldest trick in the book. People want to feel they're doing something about an intractable problem, but the real solutions are hard and dangerous. Going after the people who are actually dangerous to kids in Chicago is too much to ask; those people are dangerous. Someone could get hurt. Going after some middle-aged mom in the suburbs and making it harder for her to own a weapon won't do anything to the gang soldier on the south side, but at least it's safe to pick on law-abiding citizens.
One last thought--it would be interesting to know whether these kids had any help with their travel expenses from, for example, the Joyce Foundation, wouldn't it? I'm just wondering why kids from New Jersey and Washington, D.C. felt the need to travel to Chicago to push gun control when their own areas are such havens for the idea . . . . if anyone was wondering whether Illinois would be a national battleground this year, I think the answer is clear now.