It was only a matter of time. If it weren’t for the dozens of phone calls made by a handful of bowhunters the last couple of years, crossbows would already be legal in IL. While IL can remain the only state in the US without a concealed carry law, our DNR and politicians can’t wait to hop on the crossbow bandwagon.
HB4819 was introduced February 3rd. Of course, it wasn’t introduced as a crossbow bill. It’s what we refer to as a “shell bill.” It’s basically a placeholder for a bill. Politicians file these shell bills to be used later, when they can change the purpose of the bill without changing the title and drawing attention to it. For example, this bill was titled, “WILDLIFE-TECH” like dozens of other bills just like it. The purpose inside the shell bill? It “amends the Wildlife Code. Makes a technical change in a Section concerning the short title.” In other words… it said nothing.
But lo and behold, the “WILDLIFE-TECH” bill now says this, “Amends the Wildlife Code. Removes language limiting the use of crossbows to hunt deer during the open season for bow and arrow set annually by the Director to handicapped persons and persons age 62 or older. Effective immediately.”
The main representative behind this is Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr. from Mundelein. Another bill Rep. Sullivan sponsored was a bill to extend the gun season an extra 7 days. We’ve seen crossbow bills before, but most of the time the lawmakers at least have the guts to introduce a bill the right way without hiding it in a revised shell bill a month after it’s been filed.
The history of politicians, and our DNR, trying to get crossbows in the archery season is an old story, and really not worth repeating here. The last survey, circa 2005 or so, showed an overwhelming majority (near 70%) of hunters not wanting crossbows legalized in either archery or shotgun season. It now appears that this bill will give us both.
Crossbows have been pushed by some of the political appointees of the Natural Resources Advisory Board. At least one bill a year gets introduced by a legislator. The DNR sits idly by and offers a “no opinion” answer every time a bill comes to committee… so they don’t have to be the bad guys either way. But Director Miller supports crossbows, in the name of getting more people involved in hunting.
So the 2012 version is making its way through the legislature. After the cowardly way the bill was brought to life, it’s had an amazing run already, including adding 6 co-sponsors in the house. I’ve tracked plenty of bills through the process over the last 15 years. Most of the time it takes weeks to call a bill in committee, especially if the politicians know there will be opposition. Either the opposition fails to show up at a committee meeting and they push it through, or the bill never gets called by the sponsor. This bill, however, amazingly flies through all committees and the full house in 4 days, never receiving a single opposing vote. And politicians wonder why there’s so much mistrust in IL?
What amazed me most were the legislators who signed up, including members of the Legislative Sportsman’s Caucus. These politicians are part of a group who vowed to protect the rights of hunters and fishermen, yet they care nothing about the opinions of sportsmen. And it appears that most of the work was done AFTER the big LSC party in Springfield, which was the last time these politicians would have to face any opposition at their annual cocktail party they hold in the name of protecting hunters’ rights.
So basically the whole process is 2/3 done. The bill has already been unanimously approved by the full house. All that’s left is a sneaky Senate vote like the House pulled, and this bill will be law by August. With Director Miller being pro-crossbow, the Governor’s signature is a no-brainer.
In my opinion, it’s over. Like so much in IL, politics and money will win, and it looks like 2012 is it. I knew it was only a matter of time, but it’s a shame how it all went down. Gutless revisions on shell bills, and ram-rodding it through the entire legislative process in a matter of hours is just par for the course. The very politicians who are supposed to be representing sportsmen don’t really care about us. Not a big surprise. After all, this is Illinois politics at its finest.
At this point, it’s not really about crossbows anymore. It’s about the same old games. It’s about our DNR being run by politics. It’s about blatant disregard for our opinions, just like the NR permit fight, the Deer Hunter Advisory Committee, and the Deer Task Force that all happened before it. It’s about slowly losing our rights little by little, and having things like this shoved down our throats after sneaking it in the back door almost like it was after-hours without even trying to face the voice of opposition.
I’m sure some people will criticize me on here for my opinion on crossbows. That’s fine. Everyone has an opinion, and my point here has more to do with how this is happening. Just remember this the next time when the issue is something you disagree with. The politicians in this state don’t care what you or anyone else thinks. The more fights like this we lose, the easier it is for them to just keep rolling over us. It’s crossbows now… what is it tomorrow?