Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville believes the private ownership and sale of military-style weapons like those used in several mass shootings, including this summer in Highland Park, should be outlawed.
“They should be banned,” said Foster, who’s seeking reelection in the 11th District. “There is a threshold that we have to set, (that) every country sets -- at what point a weapon is too dangerous to be in private hands.”
Foster’s Republican challenger, Catalina Lauf of Woodstock, did not answer questions for this story but has repeatedly spoken against gun control efforts.
Foster, a former business owner and physicist who has represented the 11th District since 2013, spoke about gun control and other issues in a recent online conversation with the Daily Herald and in a questionnaire. Lauf was invited to participate in the interview and complete the questionnaire but didn’t respond.
Foster called for stronger gun control laws and for private possession of some weapons -- such as semi-automatic rifles once covered by a now-expired federal weapons ban -- to be outlawed.
The Founding Fathers drew a line on gun ownership by allowing early U.S. citizens to own muskets but not cannons, Foster said, echoing a claim President Joe Biden made in a speech last year. However, historians have said the Second Amendment didn’t outlaw private cannon ownership.
As a starting point, Foster called for stronger licensing and mandatory training for people who own military-style weapons.
“(It) should be comparable to the training that you have to receive if you’re going to operate a weapon like that in the armed forces,” he said.
Additionally, such weapons should be stored in an armory, Foster said. When asked for clarification, a Foster spokesman said a secure facility like a gun club would suffice.
Foster also supports universal background checks for would-be gun buyers and requiring people with children in the house to keep guns stored safely.
“The Second Amendment reads that people have a limited right to bear arms as part of a ‘well-regulated militia.’” Foster said. “This means that while people do have some right to a gun, the government can still step in with common-sense restrictions to prevent gun violence.”
Lauf, an adviser for a children’s nutrition company, has been an outspoken proponent of Second Amendment rights. In a Daily Herald questionnaire completed during her first bid for Congress in 2020, when she unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in the 14th District, Lauf said she was “firmly against any legislation that infringes upon our 2nd Amendment.”
This summer, Lauf opposed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, gun control legislation Congress approved and Biden signed into law.
“Republicans, don’t cave on gun control! 2A rights must never be infringed,” Lauf wrote on Facebook in mid-June.
After the law’s passage, Lauf said on Facebook: “Sad to see so many Republicans join Democrats on gun control and help them chip away at our constitutional rights. Vote them out.”
Photos and videos of Lauf holding or firing weapons can be found on her social media pages, too, with text referencing the Second Amendment.
Lauf’s campaign website once included text about gun rights. In a section labeled “Protect Our Individual Liberties,” Lauf assailed the erosion of gun rights and other rights, saying “governments at all levels (are) trying to take away the 2nd Amendment rights of its lawful citizens.”
“We must be tough against the attack on Free Speech, 2A, and all individual liberties,” Lauf said on the site.
But after winning the 11th District GOP primary in June, Lauf removed the references to the Second Amendment from those statements. The missing text can be found on the nonpartisan Ballotpedia website.
Redrawn for this election, the 11th District encompasses parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, DeKalb and Boone counties.
Election Day is Nov. 8.