Assault weapons were once banned, and former Democratic U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds would like to ban them again.

Reynolds, who was in Kankakee speaking Monday, said he was one of the members of Congress most responsible for banning assault weapons in 1994. To gather votes, one of the compromises made then was to put a sunset provision on the bill. It expired 10 years later and has not been renewed to date, by either Republican or Democratic administrations.

Reynolds told an audience at the Kankakee Kiwanis Club that one of the weapons specifically banned was the type of Bushmaster that was used in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

"On the south side of Chicago," he said, "we have a 12-round, 12-gauge shotgun called a Street Sweeper. What purpose does a gun like that have? On the South Side? On the North Side? On any side?"

Reynolds said bipartisan compromise was possible on assault weapons. He related the story of Republican Jack Brooks, of Texas, who voted for his bill, but then lost his seat because of that vote.

Reynolds said his stand has not drawn enough press. He appeared at a candidates forum Sunday, but complained that he was not quoted.

Reynolds also said he had a plan to address the high rate of mortgage foreclosures. He said the 2nd District has one of the nation's highest rates for foreclosures.

Reynolds said he would go to 50 corporations and get them to donate $1 million apiece, allowing them to write the donations off their taxes. That fund would then be used, he said, to create low interest loans and grants to keep people in their homes.

"We're going to go block-by-block and community-by-community to save homes," he said.

Reynolds said he was friends, "but not close friends," with President Barack Obama. He added that "there are some things that were ignored" during Obama's first administration.

He pointed to education, which, he said, would have been an opening for the Romney campaign. Reynolds said as many as 80 percent of African-American boys drop out of high school, "and we wonder why we have crime."

He used the anecdote of his grandmother about education. The more you learn, he said, referring to her proverb, the less you will have to tote (carry).

In answer to a question, he said he would favor a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for illegal aliens.

"We are a nation of immigrants and a nation of ancestors who were immigrants," he said.

"They came here illegally," he said. "They are not illegal people. Does it benefit America for them to become legal? Yes."

 

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