McHenry County’s representatives in Springfield anticipate that lawmakers will override Gov. Pat Quinn’s changes to their compromise concealed-carry bill.
Leaders of the House and Senate will call members back into session Tuesday to consider the changes and likely vote on an override.
Tuesday also happens to be the court-mandated deadline for lawmakers to legalize concealed carry before the state’s longtime ban is invalidated. Without any rules in place by Tuesday, Illinois would have no laws governing the carrying of concealed weapons.
Local lawmakers joined others statewide, including many in Quinn’s own majority party, in criticizing Quinn’s changes to the hard-fought compromise legislation, which passed the House and Senate with the three-fifths majorities needed to override his amendatory veto.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s coming down to the wire, and it’s going to cost taxpayers for another special session,” said state Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake.
Quinn on Tuesday significantly altered what he called a “flawed bill that jeopardizes public safety.” He limited the number of concealed weapons a person can carry at any given time to one, and limited that gun to one 10-round magazine. Quinn also banned concealed weapons at any establishment that serves alcohol – the original allowed them only at establishments where alcohol makes up less than half of total sales.
Another change reversed the bill’s original intent regarding carrying in business venues that are not specifically exempted. Instead of businesses having to post signs banning concealed weapons, Quinn altered the language to ban concealed carry unless establishments explicitly allow it.
Lawmakers after months of often contentious debate crafted a compromise concealed-carry bill and approved it May 31, the last day of the spring session. Illinois is the only state with a total ban on concealed carry, but a federal court struck it down in December.
Reps. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, and David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, accused Quinn of playing politics and pandering to a gun-control Chicago base. Quinn, who carried four of Illinois’ 102 counties in 2010, likely faces a tough primary challenge next year from former Obama chief of staff Bill Daley, and could face another powerful challenger if Attorney General Lisa Madigan decides to run.
“He knows what’s going to happen. This is a farce and a waste of the taxpayers’ time,” Wheeler said.
Some lawmakers cited issues with particular changes made by Quinn, such as his eliminating a provision forbidding municipalities from acting on their own to ban what commonly are called “assault-style weapons.”
Such weapons are regular semiautomatic rifles that cosmetically look like military weapons and can accept a high-capacity magazine, but only fire one round at a time. Automatic weapons of any kind already are illegal in Illinois.
Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, said the provision was put in place to prevent a “patchwork quilt” of gun laws that would ensnare law-abiding gun owners.
“Any time you allow each municipality to create a situation where they can set up their own rules, you have an environment where gun owners going from one town to the next don’t know what the gun laws are,” McConnaughay said.
Tryon and other lawmakers pointed out that many of the changes made by Quinn were discussed and settled during the monthslong debate process. Others, such as Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, questioned why Quinn did not participate in the process as lawmakers hashed out a bill to meet the court deadline.
“I’m disappointed that he didn’t give his ideas during the months and months and dozens and dozens of votes that we took on this,” Franks said. “This passed in both chambers by supermajority votes. The governor might have had a good idea here or there, but [the amendatory veto] went so far over.”
The Tuesday special session happens to be the deadline Quinn set for lawmakers to come up with a plan to stabilize the state’s crushing $100 billion unfunded pension liability – a deadline that will most likely not be met.
“The state is sinking in red ink, and he’s wasting time rewriting bills that the House and Senate already passed,” said Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Lake Barrington. “All he’s doing is making taxpayers spend another $43,000 to bring us down there to override his amendatory veto.”
On the Net
You can read the text of the concealed-carry bill, House Bill 183, and Gov. Pat Quinn’s amendatory veto, on the General Assembly’s website at www.ilga.gov.
Visit http://www.nwherald.com/2013/06/07/a-guide-to-illinois-concealed-carry-bill/a9apqu9/ to read a guide to the original bill in a Q&A format.