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Congressional candidates take anti-gun stand in 2nd District race



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Updated: February 10, 2013 6:17PM

One candidate describes himself as an avid hunter, has undergone 40 hours of firearms training and keeps a 9mm handgun at home for protection. Another choked back tears as she described how a campaign volunteer had been shot to death. Still another has garnered a 92 percent score from the NRA.

While at least three candidates in the 2nd Congressional District have different experiences with weapons, they have one thing in common: They support a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity clips. The violence that has raged through Chicago and the nation has the candidates in former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s district shifting their focus toward violence in their district, which includes some of the most crime-ridden areas of the city.

One of the top candidates in the race, Donne Trotter, dropped out after he was arrested at O’Hare with a weapon in his carry-on bag.

The tragic and deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school has revived a national debate against assault-style weapons.

By Monday’s deadline, 22 candidates had filed to compete in the Feb. 26 special primary.

On Tuesday, candidate Robin Kelly released a Web video titled “Enough.”

“More Americans are being killed in Chicago than Afghanistan,” Kelly says in the video. She pledges a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and to never accept support from “organizations, like the NRA, that oppose reasonable gun safety legislation.”

That part should be easy for Kelly, who has gotten a lifetime grade of F from the NRA for her votes while a state lawmaker. Kelly also says she would strengthen background checks to screen for mental health concerns. Kelly choked up at one point when she described the 2004 loss of a volunteer who had been shot to death in a domestic murder-suicide.

Other top candidates in the race, including Toi Hutchinson, have locked in much higher ratings with the NRA. But Hutchinson, who earned a 92 percent grade, said she just signed on to bills in the Illinois Legislature that ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. Hutchinson, of Olympia Fields, explains her high NRA rating by saying part of her district is rural and she supports weapons for hunting. She said there needs to be a greater focus on after-school programs and mental health initiatives to curb crime in the district. Hutchinson said she opposes assault weapons.

“The thing is, if she were not running for Congress, where would she be?” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th). Beale, also a contender in the race, said he had a firm belief in having every weapon registered and working to account for stolen and illegal weapons.

Beale owns a handgun. He said he has several weapons, describing himself as a deer, pheasant, quail and rabbit hunter. State records show that Beale has a Permanent Employee Registration Card, one that usually has a tie to a security firm. Beale though said while he obtained the card through a company (“I forgot the name of the company”) he does not work part time at a security firm. That is what Trotter cited as the reason for having the same card. Beale said he applied for the card to get extra training because he wanted to responsibly have a weapon at home, where he has kids. Beale said he is allowed to have a weapon as an alderman and the training was extra, totaling 40 hours.

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