(The Center Square) – Amid record firearm sales, two members of Illinois’ Democratic congressional delegation say their constituents favor tightening gun control measures.
U.S. Reps. Robin Kelly, D-Illinois, and Bill Foster, D-Illinois, joined in a panel Friday to speak about their efforts in Washington.
Though both representatives’ districts extend from urban to rural communities, both made clear that their constituents now take a different tone about gun safety measures and their opinions on firearms in general.
“Hunting is becoming less a part of peoples’ self-image throughout the United States,” Foster said. “Even in rural areas, it’s much less common. It used to be, if you talked to a 70-year-old person even in the suburbs, they have fond memories of going hunting with their parents. That is not an experience of young kids today.”
Foster referenced recent surveys that show broad support for universal background checks, a measure the U.S. House passed and sent to the Senate, where it’s uncertain to pass without Democratic reform of the filibuster.
Kelly, whose district covers parts of the Chicago metropolitan area and stretches south into rural Iroquois County, said the same.
“People are fed up and sick of it, especially in my urban areas,” she said.
Both representatives favor a new ban on the sale of assault weapons.
Of the stories Kelly hears about from constituents, she said many tell her that they are new gun owners after instability in 2020.
“I’ve heard from people that they now own a gun,” she said. “They became gun owners out of all of this. They feel like they needed to protect themselves.”
According to FBI data, Illinoisans are outpacing the nation in gun purchases by a wide margin.
In just the first two months of 2021, more than 1.9 million background checks for firearm purchases occurred in Illinois. Kentucky had the second-most, with 800,000 checks.