The best thing about Schaumburg's March For Our Lives was that a Republican lawmaker showed up

The best thing about Schaumburg's March For Our Lives was that a Republican lawmaker showed up
Illinois State Senator Tom Rooney

That's right. A little more than a week ago, Republican State Senator Tom Rooney was at March For Our Lives in Schaumburg.

I’m not saying there weren’t a whole bunch of other wonderful things about the event.

Students organized the march. An estimated 600 people of all ages were there. Many carried clever yet meaningful signs. My personal favorite:

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Dozens of cars and trucks honked their horns in solidarity as we walked along the sidewalk on Roselle Road. It was democracy in action, a beautiful sight to behold and be a part of.

All this, in spite of the frigid temperatures, the ugly, overcast skies and pesky winds that made their way right through puffy winter jackets.

Students and politicians spoke at a park near the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts, including Illinois State Representatives Michelle Mussman and Jonathan Carroll, both Democrats.

But, kudos to Republican State Senator Tom Rooney of the 27th District, whose presence made it less us versus them, and more, hey, we're in this together.

I was amazed that a Republican showed up at all and thought it was very brave of him to do so. Not so much because of what Democrats would think. But because of possible repercussions from fellow Republicans.

Rooney was the only Republican who spoke to the crowd. I later called Rooney's office and asked about his appearance at the March. He generously invited me to sit down with him in his office, which, conveniently, was located just blocks from my home.

Senator Rooney and Opinionated Woman, Judy Marcus

Senator Rooney and Opinionated Woman, Judy Marcus

Rooney is not only a State Senator, he's a teacher at West Lyden High School in Northlake, where he teaches social studies, economics and U.S. history.

I asked him why he decided to speak at the event, and he told me a student at another school had reached out to him by email and asked him to come.

"As a a teacher," he said, "I felt is was a neat way for students to show interest and passion. In general, anything that drives kids to be politically active is a good thing."

Rooney was surprisingly open. I asked him what he thought about common sense gun reform.

He said, depending on what the specific reform is, he asks himself if  "there is anything (anti) 2nd Amendment involved in it or not?" If there isn't, he would, most likely, support it by "default."

He voted in favor of a gun dealer licensing bill because many of his constituents wanted it. It passed the Senate and the House, but the governor vetoed it. It remains to be seen whether it goes any further.

He supported a lethal violence order of protection bill which would remove guns from the home of a mentally ill person if a judge deems that person is a danger to society. The bill passed the Senate and is still waiting for a vote in the House.

He co-sponsored a bump stock ban bill, but it hasn't moved. He voted "present" on the bill that passed because of what he considered to be a "bad faith amendment" added at the last minute.  This bill is waiting for a vote by the House on whether or not to concur with the amendment.

He is not in favor of an Illinois gun registry, but said, "If they do it, it should be on a national level."

As a teacher (and a veteran), I thought he would have personal insight into the concept of arming teachers. I was right.

He said arming teachers "is almost completely ridiculous" and is not in favor for some "new freaking training program" for teachers.

He did add, however, he would consider the possibility of arming teachers if they are former police officers or military veterans.

I didn't expect to agree with Rooney on every issue. He is, after all, a Republican. If he was totally and completely into gun law reform, for example, he probably, well, wouldn't be a Republican, and, surely, he wouldn't have any support among his party members.

But I did leave having great respect for Senator Rooney.

If we had more government representatives like him--on both the Democrat side and the Republican side, representatives who are honest and aren't allergic to the word "compromise," maybe, just maybe, some positive things would get accomplished.

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  • Sounds like you were snookered by this politician (who happens to be in a desperate political fight to keep his Senate seat). You wrote: "He sponsored a bump stock ban bill, but some representatives "monkeyed" around with the bill and added what he considered a "bad faith amendment" onto it. In the end, he didn't vote in favor for it. He voted "present."" Either he misrepresented the facts to you, or you are misrepresenting the facts to others. He sponsored a slightly watered down version of such a bill, but it never even came up for a vote at all (so he did not vote "present" on his bill). Instead, a better (stronger bill) sponsored by Democrats came up for a vote and Sen. Rooney did not have the courage to stand up to his own party to vote "yes." Instead, he voted "present" -- so wishy-washy. Just like he refused to stand up to Gov. Rauner's repeated ridiculous budget blackmail demands.

  • In reply to SP85:

    I was just quoting what Senator Rooney said. I understand what you are saying, but I still think it was brave of him to come to March For Our Lives. In the end, he is still a Republican. Thanks for reading.

  • In reply to Judy Marcus:

    There's no courage when done for political reasons. Also, you should note that the Senator is now using your interview post on his social media. It makes it appear that you are supporting him, even though you have just acknowledged that he told you a lie which you repeated in your post. I believe that you have some responsibility to fact check what you are told before you blindly repeat it. Otherwise, you are merely a political tool. I'm sorry to be harsh, but the stakes are high.

  • In reply to SP85:

    Your post has the malodorous stench of a tea party-like hater. Judy stated her opinion, and you try to read something into it and attack her personally like a Russian Troll? Wallowing in the same hateful gutter as the alt-Right does not serve the left well at all. Shame on you. You owe her, and all of us who read your spiteful drivel an apology for trying to put on your best imitation of a Trump supporter.

  • Well, I think there is courage. Hardline conservatives may not be happy he went to the March. In fact, if you look at the first comment on the post on his Facebook page, you'll see someone commented who wasn't too happy about it. The Senator did not tell me a lie. But in trying to shorten the paragraph and make it more readable, I left out important details, which I have since corrected. Thank you for pointing that out. Whether or not the bill was "watered down" is a matter of opinion, and obviously you don't share the same opinion as the Senator. I don't mind that the Senator used my post on social media. So what? I supported the fact that he showed up at the March and said so... One more thing: I don't think people are as easily led as you think. I think they read between the lines and make judgments for themselves.

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