Tuesday, June 19, 2007

ISRA Press Release 06/18/2007

 Note to our members:
Please read the following ISRA Press Release, and if any of you have received similar visits from the Illinois State Police after contacting Illinois Legislators (via telephone, USPS mail, email, or fax), then please contact the ISRA office at 815-635-3198.

ISRA Press Release:
ISRA Asks Senator Kotowski to Explain State Police Infringements on First Amendment Rights of Illinois Gun Owners

CHICAGO, June 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA):

The ISRA is expressing great concern over reports that Illinois State Police (ISP) detectives have been visiting the homes of people who phoned or faxed Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) to express opposition to gun control legislation sponsored by the senator. The ISRA has recently conducted a thorough investigation into one complaint, and is gathering additional information on as many as several dozen other reported incidents of police questioning citizens who have spoken out against gun control legislation.

In the case investigated thus far, the respondent reports that ISP detectives arrived at his home, unannounced, and informed him that their visit was in response to faxes he sent to Sen. Kotowski. The detectives then went on to ask the citizen questions about his mental health and other personal matters. Although the citizen was not arrested, he reports that he feels that the detectives were there to deliver the message that it's not a good idea to criticize Dan Kotowski or the gun control measures Kotowski supports.

"The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to petition the government for the redress of grievances," said ISRA Executive Director, Richard Pearson. "Of course, the manner in which citizens exercise that right must not include any threats of harm against elected officials."

"When we first heard about the ISP visits to homes of people who had sent faxes to Sen. Kotowski, we were concerned that some folks may have acted inappropriately," continued Pearson. "However, upon inspection of the faxes in question, we see absolutely no reason for the ISP to visit citizens' homes -- other than to possibly put a damper on the citizen's desire to participate in the legislative process."

"At this time, we are asking Sen. Kotowski to produce any evidence he may have which illustrates threatening behavior on the part of citizens who have received ISP visits," said Pearson. "If Sen. Kotowski cannot produce any such evidence, then we will be asking Attorney General Madigan to conduct an investigation into the apparent use of the ISP to suppress the First Amendment rights of persons who express opposition to gun control legislation."

The ISRA is the state's leading advocate of safe, lawful and responsible firearms ownership. Since 1903, the ISRA has represented the interests of over 1.5 million law-abiding Illinois firearm owners.

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