Chesney Guest Column: SAFE-T Act Update; Gun Control Measures on Horizon

I hope this update finds you enjoying the holiday season with family and friends. The Illinois House and Senate recently convened in Springfield for the second week of Veto Session, concluding December 1. The session dealt with major issues of State policy on which action was required prior to the end of the year.

Illinois Democrats passed changes to the so-called “SAFE-T” Act during the final hours of Veto Session. The  SAFE-T Act legislation, HB 1095, passed with the minimum required number of votes in the House (71-40-0) on a partisan basis. Not a single Republican in the Illinois House or Senate supported the “fixes” that fell far short of actually improving the law before it is scheduled to take effect on January 1.

Democrats originally passed the deeply flawed SAFE-T Act by bare partisan majorities during the early morning hours of the final day of the January 2021 lame duck session. This highly-controversial law ends cash bail, makes it more difficult to detain dangerous criminals, exploits victims of violent crime, imposes unfunded mandates on local governments, and cripples our law enforcement officers’ ability to do their jobs effectively.

Despite meager attempts by Democrats to clean up and clarify the intent of the SAFE-T Act, the harsh reality is that their so-called “reforms” will still let dangerous criminals back out onto our streets for numerous violent crimes. No amount of sugarcoating can change what Illinoisans are seeing with their own eyes: shootings and other violent crime is up, carjackings are rampant, and criminal mob actions are plaguing our cities. Illinois’ law enforcement community is demoralized and police officers are retiring in droves.

A legal challenge to the SAFE-T Act is scheduled to be heard in court on December 20, leaving a very brief window of time for a ruling prior to the law’s January 1, 2023 implementation date. Sixty-two Illinois state’s attorneys, representing more than half of the counties in Illinois have filed lawsuits against the controversial law. The lawsuits have been consolidated into one case in Kankakee County circuit court, making it possible for the state’s attorneys to present evidence on the unconstitutionality of the SAFE-T Act.

The House of Representatives is expected to return to Springfield during the first week of January for a “lame duck” session to consider an assault weapons ban, mandatory gun registration for all law-abiding Illinois FOID and CCL holders who own a firearm, and raising the age to own a gun in Illinois. Democrats have already filed legislation to make these changes, House Bill 5855, which they are expected to push immediately after the New Year. During these debates, I will continue to be a strong voice for our Second Amendment rights.

On a more positive note, by the time this column goes to print, I will have hosted my Pet Rescue Fair with the Friends Forever Humane Society in Freeport, scheduled for December 10. Our pet adoption event helps to place available rescue pets with loving owners in time for the holiday season. As the owner of a rescue Labrador myself, I recognize that there is always a need for matching local families looking to share their love and homes with furry friends seeking their forever homes. Thank you to everyone who helps make this annual event a success.

State Representative Andrew Chesney advocates on behalf of the 89th District in Illinois. As a legislator, his policy priorities include cutting taxes, creating jobs, and government accountability and transparency.