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NRA lobbyist breaks Illinois law, helps change it

Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 7:51 p.m. CDT
Caption
(AP file photo)
Todd Vandermyde, the Illinois lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, speaks at a Feb. 28, 2013, House committee meeting on assault weapons in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD – The powerful Illinois lobbyist for the National Rifle Association has helped rewrite a state law he broke.

Todd Vandermyde told the Chicago Sun-Times in an article published Wednesday that he was only exercising his rights as a citizen when he intervened to push legislation to loosen restrictions on transporting crossbows and enlisted the House Republican leader to tighten authority for police to enter private land.

Vandermyde was ticketed by state conservation police officers and fined $120 for carrying an uncased, loaded crossbow on an ATV in December during a hunting trip. He was on private land in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago.

As with hunting rifles, crossbows must be in cases when transported.

"I had a run-in with a couple of cops and because of it, it educated me about the law, and I thought there were some inequities of the law that needed fixed," Vandermyde said.

But Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat who has been at odds with Vandermyde over gun-control issues, said the lobbyist was out of line.

"If I got a ticket and changed the law because I got a ticket, people would be screaming bloody murder," Cassidy said. "I don't think it's any different when someone with the level of influence and access that he has does it, too."

Vandermyde dismissed Cassidy's complaints, saying critics "hate the Second Amendment, and they really hate the First Amendment to boot, that little thing about petitioning government for grievances. That's what I do all day."

Vandermyde worked with GOP Rep. Josh Harms of Watseka to allow uncased crossbows in transport, which cleared the House and is in the Senate. Harms said he is a bow hunter who was considering the initiative before Vandermyde got involved.

Vandermyde also went to House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, a Western Springs Republican whose district includes the land Vandermyde was on. He told Durkin he didn't like the idea conservation police could go onto private property, unannounced and without probable cause.

Durkin said he was addressing "the authority by which conservation police can enter private property to search and seize possible contraband in violation of the Wildlife Code." Durkin's bill awaits a House floor vote.

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Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://www.suntimes.com/index

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