CHICAGO — — One week before a federal court deadline, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday demanded that lawmakers approve tougher restrictions as part of a gun possession bill that would make his state the last in the country to allow the concealed carry of firearms.
Quinn cited Chicago's gun violence in declaring that a compromise gun bill that cleared the House and Senate by wide margins was too hurried and influenced by the National Rifle Association. But fellow Democrats who lead the Legislature signaled they would try to override his changes next week.
Using an amendatory veto, Quinn sent the measure back to legislators with significant changes — including a one-gun limit on the number of firearms a person can carry and a ban on weapons in establishments that serve alcohol. Towns also would have the right to enact their own assault weapons bans, beyond just a 10-day window that was part of the bill approved by the Legislature in May.
"There are serious flaws in this bill that jeopardize the public safety of the people of Illinois," said Quinn, surrounded by nearly 100 anti-violence advocates, including relatives of gunfire victims.
Lawmakers who have spent months debating and negotiating the gun bill reacted angrily, accusing Quinn of posturing ahead of a re-election campaign next year in which he likely faces serious challenges even from within his own party. Sponsors of the bill noted the concealed-carry bill passed with well more than the three-fifths majorities needed in both the House and Senate to turn back the governor's demands.
"I think he's playing politics. I'm just saying it like it is," said Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Democratic lawmaker and gun rights advocate from a far southern Illinois district who sponsored the legislation.
Within hours of Quinn's announcement, Illinois' legislative leaders called a session for next Tuesday to deal with the changes. That day is also the deadline the 7th U.S. Circuit Appeals Court gave Illinois to pass a law as part of a December ruling that the state's concealed carry ban was unconstitutional. All 49 other states have laws allowing public, concealed carry of firearms.