Quinn rewrites concealed-carry; sets up political showdown

News-DemocratJuly 2, 2013 

Concealed Carry Illinois

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

SCOTT EISEN — AP

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Gov. Pat Quinn issued an amendatory veto Tuesday to a bill that would allow Illinois residents to carry concealed weapons, making it more restrictive.

But legislators quickly vowed to override the governor's veto, perhaps as early as next week, and they've probably got enough votes to do it.

Quinn's revisions include capping the number of firearms and ammunition that can be carried and banning guns from any establishment where alcohol is served.

"There are serious flaws in this bill that jeopardize public safety of the people of Illinois," Quinn said.

During a news conference in Chicago, where he was surrounded by dozens of representatives from anti-gun groups, the Democratic governor said his revisions are "common-sense changes."

Quinn's amendatory veto makes the following changes to the bill:

* Requires a person carrying a gun to have it completely concealed, rather than mostly.

* Limits a person to carrying one magazine that is capable of holding 10 or fewer bullets.

* Prohibits carrying in any establishment where alcohol is consumed, except for a private residence or private club. The original bill prohibited carrying in establishments where alcohol sales account for more than 50 percent of receipts.

* Inverts the presumption of where a person can carry. Licensees can carry only in locations where the property owner has posted a sign indicating it's OK to carry a gun on the property. Previously, the bill said property owners had to post signs if they wanted to prohibit carrying guns on their property.

* Allows employers to prohibit guns on their properties, even inside vehicles on parking lots. Previously, the bill's "safe harbor" provision allowed an employee to keep his or her firearm in the car while parked in the lot, even if the employer prohibited firearms on the property.

* Requires a licensee to lock the gun in a case before exiting the vehicle when parked outside a location that prohibits guns. Previously, the bill allowed a licensee to carry an unloaded gun in the immediate area surrounding the car in order to store it or retrieve it from the trunk.

* Removes a provision that requires communities wanting to ban semi-automatic assault-style weapons to do so within 10 days after the legislation takes effect. Quinn said not allowing communities to enact their own bans is "the wrong way to go."

The Illinois State Rifle Association issued a statement describing Quinn's veto as good news for criminals.

"Self-defense isn't some sort of carnival game where the house stacks the odds against the good guy," said ISRA Director Richard Pearson. "We're talking about defending the lives of everyday Illinoisans here. The new restrictions appearing in Quinn's amendatory veto encumber good citizens to the point where carrying concealed becomes pointless -- which is exactly the intention of the governor and his friends in the gun-control movement."

A federal appeals court ruled in December that it was unconstitutional for Illinois to ban the public possession of concealed firearms and gave it until July 9 to comply.

"I felt that ruling was wrong then. I still feel it's wrong," Quinn said.

The legislation permits qualified gun owners who pass background checks and undergo 16 hours of training to get permits for $150.

Proponents of a concealed-carry bill, Rep. Jerry Costello II, of Smithton, and Rep. Brandon Phelps, of Harrisburg, say the House and Senate probably can put enough votes on the bill to override a veto. That could happen next week, when lawmakers are expected to return to Springfield to deal with the state's pension crisis.

An override would require three-fifths majority votes in the House and Senate. When the bill passed in the legislature this spring, it had enough votes to override a veto. It passed 89-28 in the House and 45-12 in the Senate.

The bill sent to Quinn was the result of months of negotiations among lawmakers and interest groups. But Quinn said there are "too many provisions in this bill that are inspired by the National Rifle Association," and he added that public safety can "never be compromised, never be negotiated away." Quinn at one point referred to lawmakers who supported the bill as "mouthpieces for the NRA."

Local lawmakers promised an override of the veto.

Costello called the governor's move a publicity stunt for Chicago interests.

He added, "I will not stay quiet while the governor tramples our constitutional rights with delays and childish tactics, all to cover the fact that he did not get involved six months ago. I look forward to a quick vote to override the governor's veto of our concealed-carry law, and to tell the governor he cannot force us to start over because he did not get his way."

Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, said: "I would hope that we quickly get this matter before the General Assembly and have an opportunity to override the veto, allowing the State Police to begin the concealed-carry process for trained, law abiding citizens."

Haine said the bill, as sent to Quinn, "provides training and background checks and is consistent with the Supreme Court's decision finding that the right to possess and carry a firearm is a personal right."

Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, predicted the override will be "swift and embarrassing" for Quinn.

Experts argue about what happens if Illinois doesn't have laws in place by the July 9 court deadline. Gun-rights advocates say it would mean any gun could be carried anywhere. Others say it would allow local municipalities to adopt carry laws.

Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at bbrueggemann@bnd.com or 239-2511.

Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at bbrueggemann@bnd.com or 239-2511.

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