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Newtown victims’ parents urge legislators to limit weapon magazines to 10 bullets

Gov. PQuinn March

Gov. Pat Quinn in March

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Updated: June 21, 2013 6:29AM

If only the gunman who barged into the Sandy Hook Elementary School had to pause more to reload his semi-automatic rifle during his shooting spree, maybe fewer children would have died?

That’s what three parents from Newtown, Conn., wondered Sunday, speaking in favor of an Illinois bill that would limit the number of bullets in weapon magazines to 10.

“It only takes two or three seconds to reload a magazine but we know from personal experience that it can and does make a difference,” said Francine Wheeler, whose 6-year-old was murdered. “When the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary reloaded, children were able to escape. Not my son Ben,” she said, crying, “but other precious children are alive today because magazine size makes a difference.”

Gov. Pat Quinn invited three of the parents whose children were murdered in December after a gunman opened fire inside the Sandy Hook school in December. He’s hosting the mothers of Dylan Hockley and Benjamin Wheeler, both 6, and the father of Daniel Barden, 7, at the governor’s mansion Sunday night; they’ll testify on Monday before the state Senate on the bill seeking to limit high-capacity ammunition magazines in Illinois.

An emotional Nicole Hockley, whose son’s death on Dec. 14 in his first-grade classroom turned her into a lobbyist, urged senators to vote for the bill.

“This is a commonsense solution,” she said, “and it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.”

State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), the chief sponsor of the bill, said it should “make sure that we honor the memory of Dylan and Benjamin and Daniel, and to make sure we say to the gun industry that we’re not going to tolerate this in the state of Illinois. . . . This doesn’t impact hunters, this doesn’t impact sportsmen, what it does is limit the damage that these weapons can cause.”

Kotowski’s bill, Senate Bill 1002, seeks to ban the sale or delivery of magazines with more than 10 bullets and to increase the possible prison term on crimes committed with high capacity ammunition magazines.

Ten other states have imposed similar limits in the wake of several mass shootings in Aurora, Colo.; Tucson, Ariz., and Newtown, Conn., committed with guns that had the power to fire dozens of rounds without reloading.

The General Assembly is in session for about two more weeks.

The NRA has objected to the bill, saying the bans haven’t reduced crime, nor do they prevent criminals from obtaining or using the magazines because many already are in circulation.

“Irefuse to let one faction, the National Rifle Association, dictate a response that benefits their interests while silencing the voices of victims,” Senate President John Cullerton said. “I hope that the families who are here today are effective in encouraging more of my colleagues in the General Assembly to pass responsible gun laws.”

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