In district that has Highland Park, Schneider, Severino differ on how to prevent mass shootings
The two candidates running for a North suburban congressional district that includes Highland Park have disparate views about how to prevent mass shootings -- one pushing for a federal assault weapons ban and the other calling for gun-free zones to be eliminated.
Weeks after the July 4 shooting in his hometown of Highland Park, 10th District incumbent Democrat Brad Schneider led an effort in the House to revive an expired ban on assault-style weapons. The measure hasn't yet cleared the Senate.
Schneider also has called for universal background checks, gun safety education, mental health services, and better training and equipping of first responders -- all part of what he calls a "wholistic approach" to addressing gun violence.
"There's lots of things we can do that respects the Second Amendment. None of this is black and white. It's all gray," Schneider said during a recent interview with representatives of the Daily Herald Editorial Board. "The only thing that is black and white is our kids are dying. The only thing that is black and white is that the kindergartners who showed up to school this year for their first day -- one of the first things they did was learn to hide in a closet without making noise. No kindergartner should have that experience. No first-grader. None of our school kids should be going through that. But that's where we are as a country."
His Republican opponent, Joe Severino of Lake Forest, said if elected he wouldn't vote to ban assault rifles on the federal level, leaving it up to individual states.
"Maybe if the state wanted to ban it, that would be up to the state legislators -- I wouldn't stand in that face of that," said Severino. "However, I'm here to fight to keep citizens armed that want to be."
Severino argued that gun-free zones in public places, especially schools, are unsafe.
"People should know that if they show up with a gun to create havoc and chaos and death that they might be met with the same, and therefore that will devalue the interest for them from wanting to do that," Severino said.
Severino has proposed cutting federal funds to cities with high crime rates, "so you would tie their performance to the purse, and you can literally turn this crime around overnight," he said.
Though it's a state issue, Severino also said he would use his influence to repeal Illinois' SAFE-T Act.
The two candidates tussled in late August after Severino tweeted that Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering "is the reason the shooting occurred." He argued she was "negligent" for not doing more to prevent the 21-year-old Highwood man charged with carrying out the shooting from having access to firearms under the state's red-flag law.
Schneider said he was "disgusted" Severino was spreading misinformation about the shooting for political gain.
The newly redrawn 10th District encompasses parts of Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.