Edward Petka

Thursday, April 1st, 2004

Illinois State Sen. Edward Petka of Plainfield is the recipient of the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month Award for April.
 Alan M. Gottlieb, CCRKBA Chairman, presented the Award to Petka during a recent Chicago ceremony hosted by the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA).
 ISRA sponsored the event to demonstrate support for Chuck’s Gun Shop in Wilmette.  Chuck’s had become the subject of anti-gun attacks after Hale DeMar wounded a burglar who had entered his home twice in two nights.  Initially, DeMar was charged with violating a Wilmette ordinance against handgun possession, and for having guns when his state Firearms Owner Identification Card had expired.  Following a public uproar, the charges against him were dropped.
 As a part of that uproar, Sen. Petka introduced a bill to amend the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961, and provide an affirmative defense to a violation of a municipal ordinance that prohibits, regulates, or restricts the private ownership of firearms if the individual who is charged with the violation used the firearm in an act of self-defense or defense of another.
 Sen. Petka said, “I believe the right to self-defense and self-preservation is an inherent right of citizenship that government should not restrict in any way.  A recent incident in Wilmette has reinforced my conviction in the correctness of that belief.”
 Sen. Petka recounted the DeMar situation and noted that DeMar “only sought to protect his loved ones from possible harm and he acted, not recklessly but in self-defense.  The right to self-preservation and self-defense is an inalienable right.  It was so recognized by our Founding Fathers who thought so much of this issue that they listed it as the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights.  When a government interferes with this right, government has overstepped its authority.  This is why I have introduced legislation that would provide citizens such as Mr. DeMar with an ‘affirmative defense’ or legal justification from prosecution for violating such local gun bans when they are acting in self-defense.”
 He stated that under circumstances such as occurred in the DeMar case, “the homeowner should be afforded the right to self-protection and that no form of government, at any level, should interfere with that right. 
 “If a unit of  government were to pass an ordinance restricting church attendance to once a month or restricting a local newspaper reporter from publishing only one critical news story about local government each month, we would cringe and rightly so because that would be a violation of the Constitution.”
 Sen. Petka said that, “despite the best efforts of law enforcement, the police cannot be everywhere at all times.  The Wilmette law was passed to protect people, but it did not work as designed because the premise behind the law was flawed.  It ignores real life.  A casual observation of what occurs in the real world shows that most people are on the front line of their own defense.  There is a proper place for a police department but no amount of calls to 911 and no amount of money spent for large police forces are going to protect you or me and our families who can be victims in our own homes, especially in the middle of the night.”
 An attorney by profession, Petka was born March 10, 1943 in Chicago.  He received his B.A. from Southern Illinois University and his Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School.  He is a former President of the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association and serves on the Criminal Justice Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 Elected State Senate Minority Leader last year, Petka was Majority
Whip from 1995 to 2003.  He’s been in the State Senate since 1993 and, from 1987 to 1992, served as a State Representative.
 Sen. Petka received the 2000 Guardian of Small Business Award from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), and was named Legislator of the Year by the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Association in 1994 and 2002.  He has received Legislator of the Year awards from Will and DuPage Counties in Illinois, and from the Illinois Farm Bureau. 
 He and his wife, Phyllis, have four children, Jennifer, Edward, Jr., Tanya and Melinda, and three grandchildren, Alexis, Brianna and Ryan Jacob.