Quinn’s gun maneuver sets stage for near-certain political defeat next week
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Springfield Bureau Chief July 2, 2013 11:07AM
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. | File photo
Updated: July 2, 2013 4:19PM
Gov. Pat Quinn moved Tuesday to tighten legislation that would end Illinois’ last-in-the-nation prohibition on gun owners carrying their weapons in public places, setting the stage for near-certain legislative defeat for him next week.
Lawmakers will return to Springfield next Tuesday to consider the governor’s amendatory veto of the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, a measure Quinn derided as a gift to the National Rifle Association and threat to public safety.
“The Legislature passed a bill in a hurried way at the inspiration of the National Rifle Association contrary to the safety of the people of Illinois,” Quinn told about 70 gun-control supporters at a Chicago press conference where he announced his action.
The governor rewrote the bill to preserve home-rule communities’ rights to ban assault weapons, limit more restrictively where gun owners can take their weapons and keep concealed weapons out of restaurants that serve alcohol.
That puts him at loggerheads with the House and Senate, which on the final day of the spring legislative session passed the measure by large enough margins to override Quinn’s amendatory veto.
The House voted 89-28 for the plan, while the Senate voted 45-12 for it. A subsequent vote in both chambers that results in at least 71 House votes and 36 Senate votes will block Quinn’s effort to undercut the legislation.
In blasting Quinn’s move, gun-rights advocates predicted they’d have the votes to block Quinn’s recommendations and accused him of playing to his liberal base in an evolving Democratic primary that could pit the governor against Attorney General Lisa Madigan and former White House Chief of Staff William Daley.
Quinn is “kicking off his reelection campaign. That’s what he’s doing,” Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the NRA, told the Chicago Sun-Times after Tuesday’s announcement. “He’s essentially telling downstate you don’t matter. He’s going to try to win off the liberal lakefront because that’s the constituency he’s playing to. That’s really it.
“When you look at the totality of everything else, I don’t see how you flip 20 votes in the House,” Vandermyde said. “Once again, the governor is proving his incompetence and irrelevancy. He didn’t participate in the process in any meaningful way in any single point in time, and now he stands back and does what he does: He throws rocks after the fact.”
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the House and Senate announced they would take action on Quinn’s amendatory veto during a session July 9, the same day of a deadline imposed by a federal court for Illinois to craft a law that would legalize concealed carry.
Quinn’s proposed changes to the legislation would:
–preserve the right of home-rule communities like Chicago, Oak Park and Evanston to enact future bans on assault weapons.
–force businesses, churches and other private properties to post signs permitting concealed weapons inside their establishments instead of requiring them to post signs excluding weapons, which is how the legislation now reads.
–require the weapons be “completely” concealed, not just “mostly” concealed;
–limit a person to carrying only one weapon and one ammunition magazine carrying no more than 10 rounds;
–bar concealed weapons in all facilities that serve alcohol;
–prohibit concealed weapons in the workplace unless employers give “express permission” and granting employers the ability to prohibit employees from bringing or carrying weapons on all private property.
Supporters who accompanied Quinn at his Chicago press conference included Hiram Grau, director of the Illinois State Police, and several officers, religious leaders and families who have been victims of gun violence.
Among those supporting Quinn was Fr. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church on the city’s South Side.
“These changes are what people want. They don’t want some select group making the decisions for them,” Pfleger said, characterizing the original legislation Quinn acted upon as
“weak and shameful.”
Afterwards, when asked about the likelihood that his amendatory veto will be overridden, the governor said, “I don’t believe in compromising public safety. I don’t believe in negotiating public safety and I don’t believe that the National Rifle Association is an authority on public safety.”
Meanwhile, in Springfield, an aide to Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) predicted the votes exist in the Senate to undo the governor’s action. Cullerton voted for the original legislation Quinn rewrote.
“I do expect an override,” Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon told the Sun-Times. “I think President Cullerton thinks there are some valid, leftover concerns and some implementation issues that need discussed with the caucus, but I’m quite sure the votes are there for an override.”
A Madigan spokesman did not immediately respond to a message left on his voice mail Tuesday.
Regardless of a win or a defeat on an override push next week, Quinn is positioned to use his move on the gun bill to burnish his gun-control credentials and to blame the Democratic-run Legislature as the conduit for far looser gun laws.
His potential primary opponents each weighed in on the governor’s move.
An aide to the attorney general said Lisa Madigan wouldn’t decide on an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court until after the Legislature acts on the governor’s amendatory veto. She has until July 22 to make that call.
“At this point, the Legislature needs to consider the [amendatory veto] and decide whether to accept the governor’s changes or reject them. That’s the last step in the legislative process after the governor amendatorily vetoes a bill,” Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said.
William Daley’s reaction was more pointed at Quinn, both in words and actions. Daley unveiled an endorsement Tuesday from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, praising him for his gun positions and effectively undercutting Quinn’s attempt to win favor with Democratic voters who favor gun-control.
“As someone who is proud to have helped lead the fight against illegal guns, I can tell you Bill Daley will be a governor who will fight for common sense gun safety laws, background checks for all gun purchases, a ban on high capacity ammo magazines—respecting the rights of local communities to decide what gun laws work for them,” Bloomberg said in a video released by the Daley campaign.