League of Women Voters of Glen Ellyn hosts event Feb. 28
GLEN ELLYN – In the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, the seven Democratic candidates vying for a chance to oppose U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, talked about what they would do to prevent another tragedy during a candidates forum Wednesday at Glenbard South High School.
About 400 people filled Glenbard South’s auditorium in Glen Ellyn to watch the forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Glen Ellyn. Whoever wins the Democratic nod for the 6th Congressional District in the March 20 primary will face Roskam in the November general election.
Roskam, who has filed for re-election, first was elected to Congress in 2006. He faces no Republican opponent in the primary.
The race features Becky Anderson Wilkins, co-owner of Anderson’s Bookshops and a member of the Naperville City Council; Carole Cheney of Naperville, former district chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville; regulatory attorney and Clarendon Hills resident Jennifer Zordani; scientist Sean Casten of Downers Grove; College of Lake County Trustee Amanda Howland of Lake Zurich, who lost to Roskam in the November 2016 general election; Palatine resident and data analyst Ryan Huffman; and Barrington Hills Plan Commissioner Kelly Mazeski.
Zordani said she would work to stop gun trafficking, “which means enforcing the laws that we have and implementing universal background checks.”
The shooter in the Florida incident used an AR-15 assault-style semi-automatic weapon, which has been used in several mass shootings across the nation.
“We need an assault-weapons ban that includes banning high-capacity magazine extenders,” Zordani said. “We need to oppose laws that lower our standards.”
Casten said he would like to see “us regulate guns the same way we regulate cars.”
“If someone uses your gun in a crime, you are liable, the same way you are with your car,” he said.
Although mass shootings gain a lot of media attention, Howland said, “the largest number of deaths in this country come from using a gun for suicide.”
“The mass shootings are the ones we hear about all the time, but we really need to start working on our mental health issues in this country to make sure we’re keeping guns out of the hands of people who have serious mental health issues,” she said.
Huffman called for the repeal of the Dickey Amendment, which restricts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from researching gun violence. The measure has been in place since 1996.
“The Dickey Amendment doesn’t let the federal government actually study the issue of gun violence as the public health crisis that it is,” he said.
Mazeski said she also would support universal background checks, as well as a federal ban on assault and semi-automatic weapons and a repeal of the Dickey Amendment.
“I’m going to tell you that 92 percent of Americans support having universal background checks, and guess what? Eighty-seven percent of Republicans support this,” she said. “So we need to support universal background checks for sales at gun shows, between families and friends, and [for] online purchases.”
Anderson Wilkins said she called for a gun turn-in program in January 2016 as a member of the Naperville City Council.
“Eight children a day are killed with guns, and 42 are injured on average every day in this country,” she said. “Yay for Dick’s Sporting Goods to announce that they are not going to have for sale assault weapons, and that you have to be at least 21 to buy a gun.”
Cheney said gun violence needs to be treated like “the public health epidemic it is.”
“Every time there is a tragedy in this country, we talk about what could have been done to prevent that tragedy,” she said. “Unless we address this issue comprehensively, we won’t make real change.”