Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013, 5:06 pm

Lt. Gov. Simon creates firearms working group

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CHICAGO (AP) Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon wants new members of the Illinois General Assembly from both parties and from across the state to learn about different perspectives on gun ownership.

Simon said Monday that she has about a dozen freshman representatives and senators who have said they will be members of her new Firearms Working Group. She will announce the members on Tuesday.

The group will focus on 'anything that we learn about having a better conversation about firearms in the state,' Simon said in an interview.

Members will meet with advocates for both more restrictive and less restrictive firearms legislation, including gun owners, hunters, law enforcement officials, mental health professionals, families of gun violence victims, educators and firearm retailers.

Work will be done exclusively during this legislative session, Simon said. That's because a federal appeals court panel ruled last month that Illinois' ban on concealed weapons is unconstitutional. Attorney General Lisa Madigan is appealing the ruling. But lawmakers still face a deadline to pass a bill legalizing concealed carry.

Simon said she recruited members of the group from both the Democratic and Republican parties and from Chicago, the suburbs and elsewhere in Illinois. The group also will visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' World Shooting and Recreational Complex in the southern Illinois city of Sparta to learn about firearm safety.

The group plans its first conference call for Wednesday.