Gov. Pat Quinn to propose ban on assault weapons in Illinois
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Springfield Bureau Chief firstname.lastname@example.org July 31, 2012 2:12PM
Gov. Pat Quinn speaks to the media after speaking to the City Club of Chicago, Monday, July 30, 2012. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: July 31, 2012 6:16PM
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn rekindled an old political battle in Illinois Tuesday by rewriting legislation in a way that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like those used in the Colorado massacre that left 12 dead.
“There is no place in the state of Illinois for weapons designed to rapidly fire at human targets at close range,” Quinn wrote in a letter to state lawmakers in which he advocated turning the sale or possession of such weapons and ammunition into felonies.
The governor used his amendatory veto authority to rewrite National Rifle Association-backed legislation that had passed overwhelmingly last spring to permit Illinois gun owners to buy ammunition from in-state manufacturers or retailers and have it shipped to their homes.
Current law permits that practice only if the ammunition manufacturers or retailers are out of state.
The underlying bill’s sponsor, state Sen. David Luechtefeld (R-Okawville), predicted Quinn’s actions may doom the original legislation because Chicago Democrats will be loathe to support an override and cast votes against the governor on a gun-control issue.
Luechtefeld also accused Quinn of trying to take political advantage of the July 20 shootings in the Denver suburb of Aurora, where 12 theater-goers were murdered and another 58 were wounded by an assailant bearing an assault weapon.
“He likely knows this won’t go any place,” Luechtefeld said of Quinn. “But because of what happened in Colorado, he’s going to exploit that as much as he can.”
To override Quinn’s amendatory veto, Luechtefeld would need 36 votes in the Senate and 71 votes in the House, where House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) traditionally blocks such wholesale rewrites of legislation by governors.
If those supermajorities aren’t reached and there is not a majority vote in each chamber to accept Quinn’s changes, the underlying bill will die, along with the governor’s proposed bans on the sale and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Legislation banning assault weapons has never gotten out of the gate in Illinois.
A bill is pending in the Illinois House but never reached the floor. The last time that happened was in 2005 when legislation sponsored by Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago) and backed by impeached former Gov. Rod Blagojevich failed in a 57-58 vote. Sixty votes were necessary to pass the legislation.
In the 1990s, former Gov. Jim Edgar embraced an assault weapons ban, filming a campaign commercial in his 1994 campaign advocating it.
But Edgar abandoned the plan after Madigan repeatedly ran the bill only to have it fail in his chamber, and former Senate President James “Pate” Philip (R-Wood Dale) never allowed a vote on Edgar’s plan in the GOP-led Senate.
In his letter urging a rewrite of Luechtefeld’s bill, Quinn described himself as a “strong supporter” of the Second Amendment but pointed to California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York as states that ban assault weapons.
“The proliferation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines undermines public safety and the right of personal security of every citizen,” Quinn wrote.