Today, there was a major development in the long, drawn-out battle of concealed-carry laws in Illinois, which is the only state in the country that still has a ban on firearms in public. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced today that he is working to rewrite the approved legislation on his desk to make the inevitable concealed-carry law in Illinois stricter.
The move is one that officials such as East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks are likely to celebrate. A federal appeals court ruled last year that the state's ban on concealed-carry is unconstitutional, which prompted the legislature to draft the law. Quinn -- echoing comments Parks made to us when he expressed his concerns about more guns in public -- now wants the law rewritten with a series of restrictions.
"My foremost duty as Governor is to keep the people of Illinois safe," Quinn says in a statement. "This is a flawed bill with serious safety problems that must be addressed."
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He adds, "There are too many provisions in this bill that are inspired by the National Rifle Association, not the common good. Public safety should never be compromised or negotiated away, and I urge members to uphold the common sense changes I propose today."
Quinn outlined a series of rewrites today in announcing his so-called "amendatory veto" -- which means the revised draft will go back to the legislature. There, lawmakers are expected to try and override Quinn's veto and pass the bill as originally written.
The state, based on last year's ruling, has a court-ordered deadline to legalize concealed-carry by July 9.
One notable change from Quinn is an effort to ban guns from establishments with alcohol consumption, "including most family restaurants and other places where large amounts of alcohol are consumed."
He says, "Mixing alcohol with guns is irresponsible and dangerous."
Parks told us that this was one of his primary concerns for East St. Louis, which is home to a lot of nightclubs. If the final version of the state law allowed guns in bars and other places where alcohol is serve, Parks said he may try and enact a local law that would restrict this activity.
Some other notable revisions from Quinn relate to the rights of employers and local government to ban guns, his ideas for limits on the number of guns and ammunition -- and more:
- Local government should have the right to enact future laws on assault weapons.
- Employers should have the right to enact policies that prohibit employees from carrying guns in the workplace and in the course of performing employment-related duties.
- It should be clarified so that a license will permit an individual to carry one concealed gun and one ammunition clip that can hold no more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
- This insufficient provision must be clarified to ensure that when guns are carried, they are completely concealed from public view.
- In order to protect the safety of our public safety officers in the line of duty, an individual's response to questions from law enforcement about whether they are carrying a gun should always be immediate.
Quinn emphasizes that he does not support concealed-carry but is complying with the courts.
"Let me be clear, I do not agree with this ruling," he says in the statement. "However, I am duty-bound to address the mandates of the Court of Appeals, unless the United States Supreme Court rules otherwise."
Here is Quinn's full press release, which outlines all of his revisions:
Governor Quinn Takes Amendatory Veto Action on Concealed Carry Legislation Governor Uses Constitutional Authority to Address Serious Public Safety Issues
CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn today took amendatory veto action on House Bill 183 - legislation that will allow and regulate the carrying of concealed handguns in public places. The governor's amendatory veto makes critical changes to several provisions that pose significant safety risks, and strengthens the legislation to better protect the people of Illinois. Today's action is part of the governor's agenda to improve public safety in Illinois.
"My foremost duty as Governor is to keep the people of Illinois safe," Governor Quinn said. "This is a flawed bill with serious safety problems that must be addressed. There are too many provisions in this bill that are inspired by the National Rifle Association, not the common good. Public safety should never be compromised or negotiated away, and I urge members to uphold the common sense changes I propose today."
On December 11, 2012, three days before the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, (Case Nos. 12-1269 and 12-1788), struck down Illinois' current ban on the concealed carry of guns in public, an unprecedented ruling.
"Let me be clear, I do not agree with this ruling," Governor Quinn added. "However, I am duty-bound to address the mandates of the Court of Appeals, unless the United States Supreme Court rules otherwise."
The governor's changes to House Bill 183 include important revisions to establish a law that better protects the safety of Illinois citizens:
-Alcohol: HB 183 allows people to carry guns into establishments serving alcohol, including most family restaurants and other places where large amounts of alcohol are consumed. Mixing alcohol with guns is irresponsible and dangerous. Illinois must keep guns out of any establishment where alcohol is consumed.
-Home-Rule: HB183 strips the authority of home-rule governments to enact future laws on assault weapons to protect their local communities. This NRA-inspired provision is not in the interest of public safety or local communities. In fact, these provisions have nothing to do with the right to carry a concealed gun and have no place in this bill. Local governments should always have the right to strengthen their own ordinances to protect the public safety of their communities.
-Signage: Under the bill, loaded guns would be allowed in stores, restaurants, churches, children's entertainment venues, movie theaters and other private properties, unless the owner visibly displays a sign prohibiting guns. As a matter of property rights, the legal presumption should always be that a person is not allowed to carry a concealed, loaded gun onto private property unless given express permission.
-Employer's Rights: As currently drafted, this bill infringes on an employer's ability to enact policies that ensure a safe and secure work environment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shootings are the most frequent cause of workplace fatalities. To best ensure a safe work environment, employers should have the right to enact policies that prohibit employees from carrying guns in the workplace and in the course of performing employment-related duties.
-Number of Guns and Ammunition: The bill provides no cap on the number of guns, or on the size or number of ammunition clips that may be carried. Instead, it allows individuals to legally carry multiple guns with unlimited rounds of ammunition, which is a public safety hazard. In the interest of common sense and the common good, it should be clarified so that a license will permit an individual to carry one concealed gun and one ammunition clip that can hold no more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
-Mental Health Reporting: While HB 183 appropriately seeks to improve mental health reporting, as Governor Quinn called for during his State of the State address in February, the positive impact of these measures is limited by the lack of clarity in the notification process. Clarification is necessary to ensure these enhancements to mental health reporting prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.
-Clarification of "Concealed": As written, the definition for "concealed firearm" includes the phrase "mostly concealed," which would allow a licensee to walk around in public with a portion of his or her gun exposed. This is an irresponsible step towards open carry in Illinois. This insufficient provision must be clarified to ensure that when guns are carried, they are completely concealed from public view.
-Open Meetings Act: Under the current bill, the meetings and records of the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board are entirely exempt from the Open Meetings and Freedom of Information Acts, providing zero transparency of the meetings, budget, personnel and other aspects of this government board. Similar to the Prisoner Review Board and the Emergency Medical Services Disciplinary Review Board, the meetings and records of this board - unless otherwise exempt - should be announced, open, and available to the public.
-Law Enforcement: As written, the bill does not require an individual to immediately disclose to a public safety officer that he or she is in possession of a concealed firearm. In order to protect the safety of our public safety officers in the line of duty, an individual's response to questions from law enforcement about whether they are carrying a gun should always be immediate.
Governor Quinn today also urged the people of Illinois to contact their local legislators and ask them to put public safety first and accept the governor's important changes to this legislation. Additionally, Governor Quinn launched a website where people can access information about the concealed carry legislation and his amendatory veto. To find out more, please visit www.KeepIllinoisSafe.org.
The state has been given a court-ordered deadline of July 9 to legalize carry weapons.