By Benjamin Yount
SPRINGFIELD — No one expected Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to sign the state’s recently approved concealed-carry law without making some changes.
But that doesn’t mean concealed carry supporters are happy about Quinn’s amendatory veto.
Quinn has long been a gun control advocate and has voiced his displeasure with a federal court ordered that forced Illinois to allow citizens to legally carry a gun outside of their home.
Illinois is the last state in the nation with a blanket ban on carrying a weapon.
Quinn today re-wrote Illinois concealed carry law to limit people to carrying one gun and just 10 rounds of ammunition, to allow local cities to ban assault weapons within their borders, and flip the foundation of concealed carry in Illinois and ban guns by default.
Local businesses would have to choose to allow weapons on their property, under the Quinn version of the law. The legislature had adopted provisions that would give people a right to carry and force businesses to notify people when they are not allowed to carry a weapon.
“I don’t believe in compromising public safety. And I don’t believe in negotiating public safety,” Quinn said at Chicago news conference that veered between a bill signing and a campaign rally.
Phelps said lawmakers are scheduled to come back next week, ostensibly to deal with pensions, but he expects a quick vote on the governor’s additions to the concealed carry law.
“I don’t think it matters what he does, to be honest,” Phelps said. “We have a compromise with both chambers, both sides of the aisle, and (Chicago). If we keep our numbers like we did the first time we voted for this concealed-carry bill, we can override any veto or amendatory veto that he has.”
Quinn said lawmakers instead need to vote their conscience.
“Those who are mouthpieces for the NRA, they ought to realize Democracy is all about taking a stand,” Quinn said. “You are either for public safety or against it.”
But despite what looks like an inevitable victory for concealed-carry supporters, Phelps said he is upset at how the governor is grandstanding on the issue.
“The only thing we have in Springfield is our word,” Phelps said.
The governor, he said, “was very much aware of the compromise deal … he got six of the seven things that he wanted … He knows about this process, he should not play politics with this process, and shame on him for doing that.”
Phelps is not the only state lawmakers taking issue with Quinn’s changes. A cavalcade of Democrats and Republicans predicted failure for the governor within minutes of his announcement.
“I am disappointed—but not surprised—Gov. Quinn waited so long to veto concealed carry while he tried to score political points,” said Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park. “Even though he has put lawmakers in a difficult position, I am optimistic that we will be able to override his veto and finally get a law on the books.”
“In issuing this veto he is overruling the clear will of the people of Illinois as evidenced by the bi-partisan, supermajority of votes in the democratically elected legislature,” Sen Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said. “I am confident that we will return to override his veto shortly in the same bi-partisan fashion as originally passed (concealed carry).”
If lawmakers override the governor’s concealed carry changes, the clock begins for Illinois residents who want to carry a gun.
The proposed law gives the Illinois State Police six months to establish the bureaucracy for concealed carry.
Phelps said residents in Illinois should be able to carry a gun by early 2014, but he said he hopes it doesn’t take that long.
Evanston aldermen are scheduled to vote Monday on adopting an ordinance that would ban assault weapons, in an effort to get the ban on the books within the 10-day window for adopting such restrictions in the original bill passed by the state legislature.
Contact reporter Benjamin Yount at Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org.