Quinn wants gun, ammunition limits in concealed-carry bill
Calling them "common sense changes" in the interest of public safety, Gov. Pat Quinn Tuesday used his amendatory veto powers to rewrite a bill allowing people to carry concealed weapons in public.
Within hours, the chief House sponsor of the bill filed paperwork to have lawmakers reject the changes. The General Assembly will return Tuesday to deal with the issue. Tuesday is the deadline set by the federal courts for the end of Illinois' last-in-the-nation ban on concealed carry.
Quinn's changes include banning concealed weapons from anyplace that serves alcohol, limiting people to one concealed weapon with a magazine that holds no more than 10 rounds of ammunition, allowing home-rule cities to ban assault weapons and allowing employers to ban concealed weapons at the workplace.
"There are serious flaws in this bill that jeopardize public safety," Quinn said at a Chicago news conference to announce the changes he was making. "Public safety should never be compromised. Public safety should never be negotiated away. The things I've outlined today are all about common sense and public safety."
Quinn's changes were roundly condemned by lawmakers who worked months to fashion a compromise concealed-carry law that could win approval in a legislature sharply divided between gun-rights and gun- control advocates.
"What he did today went well beyond the scope of his (amendatory veto powers)," said Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, the lead House negotiator on concealed carry. "He gutted this bill and rewrote it the way he wanted. It's nothing more than political pandering to Chicago."
Quinn's only announced Democratic primary opponent, former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, called Quinn's move a "stunt."
"Because Governor Quinn failed to push for changes he made today during the spring session, we have a bad bill ... and his amendatory veto stunt likely will not change that at all," Daley said in a written statement.
Quinn, though, ripped the bill as being a product of the National Rifle Association.
"I don't believe in negotiating public safety," the governor said. "I don't believe the National Rifle Association is an authority on public safety. Many of the provisions of this law were inspired by the National Rifle Association. We don't need people representing the NRA writing the law of Illinois."
"Self-defense isn't some sort of carnival game where the house stacks the odds against the good guy," Illinois State Rifle Association executive director Richard Pearson said in a statement. "The new restrictions appearing in Quinn's amendatory veto encumber good citizens to the point where carrying concealed becomes pointless - which is exactly the intention of the governor and his friends in the gun control movement."
Alcohol and guns
As it passed the General Assembly, House Bill 183 allowed concealed weapons in places that serve alcohol if they get more than half their revenue from food sales. Quinn changed that to ban weapons in all places that serve alcohol.
"Guns and alcohol don't mix," Quinn said. "I think it's very important that the legislature understand that message from the people of Illinois."
Quinn also took steps to allow home-rule cities, like Chicago, to impose a ban on assault weapons. He removed a provision that gave communities 10 days to ban the weapons from the time the bill became law.
"This has nothing to do with concealed carry," Quinn said of the time limit. "We don't' need the NRA telling us how to keep people safe in Illinois."
The bill didn't limit the number of concealed weapons a person could carry and said they only needed to be "mostly concealed." Quinn changed that to limit a person to one concealed weapon with a magazine that holds no more than 10 rounds of ammunition. He also said the weapon must be completely concealed.
"This is a public safety hazard," Quinn said of the ability to carry multiple concealed weapons.
Quinn rewrote the bill to make it clear employers could ban concealed weapons from the workplace and parking lots adjoining their businesses.
"The number one cause of workplace fatalities are shootings," Quinn said.
He also reversed a provision in the law that required signs be posted in stores, restaurants, churches movie theaters and other locations if the owner wanted to prohibit concealed weapons. Instead, Quinn said signs should be posted in places that allow concealed weapons.
"It's important that owners of private property be allowed to ban guns from their premises without having to post signs saying ‘no guns allowed,' " Quinn said. "The presumption ought to be no guns allowed in these places."
The governor also said a board that will consider appeals of people denied concealed-carry permits should be open to the public.
In order to build support for his changes, Quinn launched the keepillinoissafe.org website where people can review the law and proposed changes. It also helps people identify their legislator and encourages them to contact the lawmaker to support Quinn's changes.
However, a number of lawmakers issued statements Tuesday saying they want Quinn's changes rejected.
"He has ignored the will of the people, the courts and the General Assembly," said Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, in a statement. "I will work strenuously to see that the veto is overridden so Illinois will finally allow concealed carry."
"The legislature spent many hours this spring debating concealed-carry legislation," said Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, a Republican candidate for governor. "Governor Quinn's concepts were considered during that discussion and ultimately did not have the support of a majority of the General Assembly."
"Governor Quinn is playing politics with his blustery press conferences and anti-gun talking points," said Sen. Sam McCann, R-Carlinville. "This is good legislation, and I am confident my colleagues in the General Assembly will move with haste to override the governor's misguided amendatory veto."
Doug Finke can be reached at 788-1527.