CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn predicted a "showdown" in Springfield over his proposed changes to a concealed carry bill, but there was little indication from lawmakers and legislative leaders a day ahead of Tuesday's vote that they'd do much more than reject his demands.
For days, Quinn has been pushing for his alterations to a bill that would make Illinois the last in the nation to allow concealed carry of weapons in public, something the state must do by Tuesday to meet a court-mandated deadline. The Chicago Democrat recently highlighted Chicago's violence at churches, parades and outside Wrigley Field by linking the rash of recent shootings to the need for tougher gun laws.
He urged the same Monday after signing two bills dealing with gang-related crime on Chicago's West Side, saying lawmakers shouldn't "override common sense" set out in his proposal.
"There will be a showdown in Springfield," he told the crowd.
While Quinn's changes – which include a one-gun limit and no guns in establishments that serve alcohol – have been embraced by Chicago's anti-violence advocates, they've received a cold reception from lawmakers. Many were angered that Quinn waited a month after receiving the bill to make his changes and accused of him pandering to voters. Quinn, who's running for re-election, faces some potentially high-profile challengers from his own party.
Both chambers were set to meet Tuesday and legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle expected to caucus before an anticipated vote to override Quinn.
A sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Brandon Phelps, said Quinn's late changes put Illinois at risk of "going off the cliff" and not meeting the July 9 deadline.
"Why would the governor want to put people in that predicament?" the Harrisburg Democrat asked. "That's the problem with what's he's doing. I don't think he understands what he's doing."
Illinois must comply with a federal appeals court deadline after the state's ban on concealed carry was ruled unconstitutional in December. The original bill, which came out of months of negotiation, would allow the Illinois State Police to issue a concealed carry permit to a gun owner with a Firearm Owners Identification card who passes a background check, pays a fee and undergoes training.
The bill passed both the House and Senate with the support of more than the three-fifths majorities needed to override Quinn's changes.
There's little agreement about what will happen if there's no law by Tuesday. Some say it means that anyone can carry a gun anywhere, others say it will prompt local municipalities to enact their own ordinances.
Still, Phelps said one possible outlet for Quinn's suggested changes might be a trailer bill at a later date.
Senate President John Cullerton said that issues raised by Quinn's changes, made through his amendatory veto power, were worth discussion and could come up again down the road.
"We need to get some regulations on the books by July 9," Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said. "But at the same time, let's not pretend that this is going to be the last opportunity to enact fair and responsible gun legislation, so maybe even for future legislation, or things that can be done next year, or even in the veto (session), he wants to open those discussions."
If lawmakers reject Quinn's changes and the bill they approved goes into effect, Illinois State Police will have to be ready within six months to accept applications. Roughly 300,000 applications are expected in the first year, according to ISP spokeswoman Monique Bond.