Despite prosecutors charging him for allegedly trying to bring a gun onto an aircraft at O'Hare Airport, the South Side Democrat once voted against allowing Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons.
Trotter later voted "present" on another measure that would have softened the penalty for getting caught with a concealed weapon.
His arrest brings the number of sitting Illinois lawmakers facing criminal charges to three, which is a high-water mark in recent political memory at the Statehouse. Trotter now joins state Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago), who faces a federal bribery charge, and state Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago), who was indicted last week on federal bank fraud charges.
In 1995, Trotter was a "no" vote on a measure carried by state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) that would have legalized carrying concealed weapons in Illinois.
During floor debate, Trotter stood to challenge Dillard on the propriety of allowing Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons without having to go through extensive training or psychological evaluations
"What you're doing here [is] just basically creating part-time police officers who have not gone through the extensive training, who have not had the psychological evaluations, who will be getting out there who feel now that they're--they are stronger, they are badder, they are tougher because they have this nine-shooter on their hip," Trotter said.
Here is a full copy from the Senate transcript of Trotter's final argument against Dillard's bill during that May 4, 1995, floor debate:
"Yes, just before I close, I understand your intent, and -- and they're good intentions from your part; however, there's a lot of individuals who don't have those intentions. There's a lot of individuals out here who do look at this as an opportunity to be that vigilante, to be that support person to the police officer who isn't there, which is one of the things we addressed just yesterday when we voted for-- for -- in arming and also in empowering part-time police officers. What you're doing here just basically creating part-time police officers who have not gone through the extensive training, who have not had the psychological evaluations, who will be getting out there who feel now that they're--they are stronger, they are badder, they are tougher because they have this nine-shooter on their hip. And this just isn't it. And we're talking about are we allowing or just curtailing those who not have been convicted. According to this, it's an applicant who has not been convicted of a forcible felony under the laws of this state or any other jurisdiction within twenty years of the applicant's application for the flrearm - the FOID card, or at least twenty years have passed since the end of that period of imprisonment may, in fact, hold a weapon. So we're saying that here's someone who might have had a felony, who can still get a gun, just twenty years -- under the FOID card but they haven't done nothing in twenty years, but --now we're going to give them a gun. I think we--you're really stretching it here when you're empowering these individuals with these weapons."
The Dillard bill wound up failing by a 28-29 vote, two votes shy of the 30-vote threshold needed to pass the measure over to the House.
Two years later, gun-rights advocates were back with legislation that would weaken the penalty for those caught carrying a concealed weapon in Illinois. The bill, sponsored by former state Sen. Ed Petka (R-Plainfield), would have lessened the penalty from a low-grade felony to an even lower-grade misdemeanor.
Trotter voted "present" on that bill, which passed the Senate and the House but was amendatorily vetoed by former Gov. Jim Edgar and ultimately died.