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Illinois Republicans talk public safety, non-citizens rights to own firearms

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(The Center Square) – Republican state lawmakers answered questions Thursday about a recent ruling from a federal judge in Illinois and its impacts on public safety.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled earlier this month that a Mexican man who was living in the U.S. illegally had a constitutional right to own a firearm for self-defense even though he is not an American citizen.

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, said Republicans are concerned it would impact public safety.

“I think it’s important for people to know this only applies to that one individual. That individual was charged federally and he filed a motion to dismiss his case and the judge ruled only on his case,” Windhorst said. “It will be appealed, and I think it will likely be reversed on appeal.”

State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, said there’s no point in addressing “what ifs,” when asked if the ruling would impact public safety.

“We can talk about ‘what ifs’ all day long, it’s going to go through the court process and until then there’s no reason to go through ‘what ifs,’” Cabello said.

Cabello recently sponsored legislation that was ultimately signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to allow certain non-citizens to become police officers. He told The Center Square that the law does not say any non-citizen can become police officers in the state of Illinois. Current law allows certain non-citizens to apply for police officer jobs, but they must be legally authorized to both work and carry a firearm in the country.

Republican lawmakers also pushed for legislation that amends the Sex Offender Registration Act. Cabello is sponsoring House Bill 4852.

“We read the headlines … we see violent criminals, who are often repeat offenders, commit heinous, brutal crimes to innocent victims,” Cabello said. “Armed robberies turned to sadistic beatings. Crime and criminals are absolutely out of control.”

Cabello said HB4852 would require the Illinois Department of Corrections to notify, in writing, the victim of where the sex offender or sexual predator expects to reside not less than 30 days before the sex offender or sexual predator’s release.

“The victims are often never spoken about. When we bring them up, we’re told, ‘we’ll get to them.’ They should be thought of first. What gets done in this building [the Capitol] often victimizes these victims again,” said Cabello.

This legislation comes after a woman was robbed and sexually assaulted near the University of Illinois-Chicago campus on Saturday evening, according to the CWB Chicago.

The Chicago Police Department told The Center Square they could not immediately provide details about the suspect, including his immigration status.

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