SPRINGFIELD-Rep. Jim Sacia has become an Internet celebrity.
During Tuesday's long House debate on concealed-carry legislation, the Republican from far northwestern Illinois made an analogy that tied together guns and castration in one fell swoop.
Now, a YouTube video of his floor speech has drawn more than 14,000 views, and one top black lawmaker condemned Sacia's remarks as the "most offensive statement" he'd heard.
"I have heard only positives," Sacia told the Chicago Sun-Times Thursday, when asked the reaction he has gotten since his speech. "My secretary in Freeport got one call from a lady in Chicago who insists I have a mental problem, but I would have expected that from someone in Chicago. The feedback has been unbelievably positive."
Spending seven hours on the House floor Tuesday, House members on both sides of the gun divide clashed heatedly while voting up or down on more than a dozen amendments to a concealed-carry bill carried by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).
A former FBI agent, Sacia (R-Pecatonica) made his statements right out of the gate as the House was dealing with an amendment sponsored by Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) that would ban those with concealed-carry permits from bringing their weapons into or near schools.
"I love you folks in Chicago. You're the ones that have the problem. You have a runaway gun problem. Don't blame the rest of us. This isn't about Democrats. It's not about Republicans. It's because Chicago wants a warm fuzzy. 'Let's pass a bill that will eliminate assault rifles.' Last year there were more people killed with hammers than with assault rifles," Sacia said Tuesday.
"Here's an analogy folks. I ask you to think of this," Sacia continued as he bellowed over the noisy House chamber. "You folks in Chicago want me to get castrated because your families are having too many kids. It spells out exactly what is happening here. You want us to get rid of guns."
A leading black lawmaker Thursday, state Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood), condemned Sacia's remarks as "one of the most offensive statements I've heard."
"That epitomizes the view of ... the Republicans or some Downstate Democrats, their view of African Americans, minorities or people from the city of Chicago, that all we do is lay around and make babies," said Davis, joint chairman of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.
"It just shows how insensitive individuals who are not from Chicago are to Chicago. They think that all the problems of the state are centered in the city of Chicago," he said. "Does it mean they don't have gun violence in Galena or southern Illinois? They have the same problems."
On Thursday, Sacia acknowledged that some have misunderstood the point he was trying to make, including the caller to his office.
"The lady from Chicago's insinuation was that I was insinuating that people in Chicago are having too many kids, therefore I need to be castrated. That wasn't the point, not even close. It simply was an analogy if you're having too many kids, you want to castrate me," he said.
"Chicago has the worst gun problem in the nation so therefore let's disarm all of Illinois. Better yet, let's pass a concealed-carry bill that prohibits you from carrying it on land, sea and in air," he said, sarcastically.