Lawmakers poised to override Quinn's gun bill

SPRINGFIELD — On the same day of the court-mandated deadline for Illinois to allow the concealed carry of weapons in public, lawmakers are set to gather in Springfield to consider Gov. Pat Quinn's sweeping changes to a bill allowing the practice.

And while the Chicago Democrat has deemed Tuesday a "showdown," lawmakers are widely expected to override his proposed amendments.

For days, Quinn has been pushing for alterations to a bill that would end Illinois' status as the last state in the nation to ban the concealed carry of weapons in public, which the state must do by Tuesday to meet a federal appeals court's deadline. Quinn recently has been highlighting Chicago's violence, saying recent shootings show the need for tougher gun laws.

"There will be a showdown in Springfield," Quinn told the crowd gathered in Chicago for a bill signing on anti-gang legislation. Afterward he told reporters that lawmakers should examine his changes carefully.

"I don't think they should override common sense. I don't think they should compromise with public safety," he said.

While Quinn's changes — which include a one-gun limit and a ban on guns in establishments that serve alcohol — have been embraced by Chicago's anti-violence advocates, they've received a cold reception from lawmakers.

Many are upset that Quinn waited a month after receiving the bill to make his changes through the use of his amendatory veto power, and accused of him pandering to voters. Quinn, who is running for re-election, faces some potentially high-profile challengers from his own party.

A bill sponsor, 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 said. "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 and undergoes training, among other provisions.

The bill passed the House and Senate with the support of more than the three-fifths majorities needed to override Quinn's changes.

There's debate about what will happen if there's no law by Tuesday. Some say it means that anyone can carry a gun anywhere, while 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 separate legislation at a later date.

Senate President John Cullerton said issues raised by Quinn's changes were worth discussing and could come up again down the road.

"Even though the Senate president will be supporting the override so that we don't waste any time getting reasonable regulations on the books, he did think that there are a lot of issues raised in the amendatory veto that are worth further discussion," Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said.

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.

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