SPRINGFIELD -- Senate Democrats combined with two suburban Republicans to approve a bill to ban the sale and distribution of firearms magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
An amendment to SB 1002, approved Monday by the Senate Executive Committee, now moves to the full Senate for its consideration.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, was approved 12-3. All 10 Democrats on the committee voted for the measure, as did Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, and Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine.
The three votes against the bill came from Downstate Republican Sens. Dale Righter of Mattoon, Dave Syverson of Rockford and David Luechtefeld of Okawville.
"This is not a be-all and end-all solution to these circumstances," said Murphy. "But the opportunity that a smaller capacity magazine provides for lives to be saved, while maybe unlikely, I think exists. I think there's a chance that this bill could save lives and I think it's worth taking that chance."
Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, also acknowledged that the measure might have limited effectiveness.
"I'm not naive enough to believe that any policy position we take on all of these issues is going to completely solve the problem, but does that mean we stop? Does that mean we don't try to make things more difficult?" Raoul said. "Does that mean that that one or two lives we can save aren't enough to make it more difficult?"
The parents of two first-graders who were among the 20 children and six adults killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December spoke out for the bill.
"All of those lives were taken in less than four minutes by a single gunman armed with an assault weapon and 10 30-round high-capacity magazines," said Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed by gunman Adam Lanza. "We know from the investigation that when the shooter left he made a conscious decision to leave the smaller magazines at home. He knew that by bringing the high-capacity magazines he could kill a lot more people. And he did."
He said the bill wouldn't end shootings but that it would save lives.
"We know that forcing a shooter to reload can provide a window to escape or to overtake a shooter. At Sandy Hook Elementary several first-graders were able to run and escape when the shooter had to reload, and they're alive today. How many more kids might be alive today if he'd had to reload three times as often? Maybe my little Daniel would be alive."
Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan also died in the shooting, said Lanza "chose to have the best kill rate possible" by using high-capacity magazines.
"If the shooter's magazines had held 10 rounds instead of 30, forcing him to reload many more times, what additional opportunities would have been available for someone to disarm him or for more children to escape?" she asked.
But one opponent of the bill, a lobbyist for the Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association, called the measure "a feel-good piece of legislation" that he said "doesn't fix anything."
"A magazine ban is a knee-jerk reaction that fails to address the underlying societal problems," said Jay Keller. "If we as a nation, as a state, truly want to address the tragedies and ... murders that occur far too often, then bring all of the interested parties to the table and allow for a full conversation that addresses every aspect of this issue."
He predicted the legislation would provoke Illinois weapons manufacturers to relocate to another state.
"If I stay in Illinois I can't sell to Illinois residents," Keller said. "But if I move to Iowa I can sell to Illinois residents. It makes no sense. But that's what we're doing with this bill."
The bill does not ban the possession of high capacity magazines, and its prohibition on sales does not apply to police officers, members of the military, hunters or shooting competitions.
Also Monday the full Senate approved HB 188, which bans anyone under 18 years old from using tanning beds at indoor tanning facilities.
The measure, sponsored by Republican Leader Radogno, was approved 34-12. Two area Republican senators, Chapin Rose of Mahomet and Jason Barickman of Bloomington, were among the "no" votes. But Sens. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign; Dale Righter, R-Mattoon; and Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, voted for the bill.