Concealed-carry veto rejected
by JASON PORTERFIELD
Northwest Side lawmakers were divided as they voted on whether to override Governor Pat Quinn’s amendatory veto of the concealed weapons bill that was passed by the General Assembly in May.
A federal court decision last year struck down the state’s ban on carrying concealed firearms, and legislators were given until July 9 to pass laws to regulate where guns can be carried and who can carry them. Quinn issued his veto on July 2, and the General Assembly voted to override it Tuesday by votes of 77-31 in the House and 41-17 in the Senate
The bill was passed on May 31 with veto-proof majorities in both chambers, by a 45-12 vote in the Senate with one member voting “present” and 89-28 in the House.
House Bill 183 makes it illegal to carry concealed weapons on public transportation, in casinos, in stadiums and in government buildings. The bill preempts bans on concealed weapons that were put in place in individual municipalities, but it leaves Chicago’s ban on assault weapons intact.
In order to obtain a concealed weapons license, applicants must have a firearm owner’s identification card, undergo 16 hours of training, pass a background check and pay a $150 fee for residents or $300 for nonresidents. The licenses are valid for 5 years.
The Illinois State Police can object to a license applicant with five or more arrests for any reason or with three or more gang-related arrests within the 7 years preceding the date of the application. A Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board composed of seven members appointed by the governor will review the objections.
Quinn’s amendatory veto would have given municipalities the ability to pass their own gun laws, limited people to carrying one concealed firearm and one ammunition clip that can hold no more than 10 rounds of ammunition at a time, required people carrying guns to keep them completely concealed, and made it illegal to carry a gun into any establishment that serves alcohol or to carry a concealed weapon onto private property unless the person is given permission to do so.
Quinn’s amendments also would have required people carrying concealed weapons to disclose that they are carrying a firearm when asked by law enforcement officers, allowed employers to prohibit workers from carrying guns in the workplace or while performing work-related duties, clarified mental health reporting rules to “prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands,” and made the meetings and records of the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board open and available to the public.
State Representative Robert Martwick (D-19) said that Quinn’s veto “amounts to political posturing” and that the governor did not engage in the legislative process. “After months of back and fourth and compromise, we finally honed it down to this,” Martwick said. “He waited until the 11th hour and issued an amendatory veto that we have not had time to look at or discuss in detail.”
Martwick, who voted for the bill and to override the veto, said that legislators discussed some of Quinn’s amendments while the bill was coming together but that they were jettisoned when they didn’t get enough support from Downstate lawmakers.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s a compromise,” Martwick said of the bill. “We can always pass amendments to the bill in the future. I think this bill is a shining example of the democratic process. It was bipartisan and bicameral, and it accounted for all of the geographical differences in the state.”
State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-20) voted in favor of the bill and the veto override. McAuliffe said that the vote to override the veto came without any debate.
“It was something that needed to be done,” McAuliffe said. “A lot of people who have always been opposed to gun rights were on board because they respect the court and they recognized that if we didn’t pass a bill, we could have a situation where someone is walking down the street in the middle of Chicago with as many guns as they want. You can always go back and make changes.”
State Representative John D’Amico (D-15) also voted for the bill and in favor of overriding Quinn’s veto.
State Representative Greg Harris (D-13) voted against both the original bill and against overriding the veto.
“I voted to sustain the governor’s veto because I believe we need strict gun laws,” Harris said. He said that the elements of Quinn’s veto that he favors include granting municipalities the right to write their own gun laws, restrictions on high-capacity magazines and restrictions on bringing firearms into businesses that serve alcohol.
State Representatives Martin Moylan (D-55), Louis Lang (D-16) and Deborah Mell (D-40) also voted against the bill and against the veto override.
State Representative Toni Berrios (D-39) originally voted for the bill but voted against the veto override. State Representative Luis Arroyo (D-3) voted for the bill and was absent for the veto override vote.
State Senator John Mulroe (D-10) supported the original bill and voted to override the veto.
“I think some of his ideas are good,” Mulroe said. “Procedurally, he went about it in the wrong way. A lot of work was done to come up with a compromise that could get enough votes to pass.”
Mulroe said that the court order put lawmakers in a situation where they had to pass a bill or people would be able to carry firearms without any regulation.
“It’s an imperfect bill, no doubt about it, but it had enough votes to pass,” Mulroe said. “People don’t understand that we had to do something to pass a concealed carry law or we wouldn’t have any restrictions on who could have them or where they could be carried.”
State Senator William Delgado (D-2) supported the bill but voted against overriding the veto. State Senators Heather Steans (D-7), Ira Silverstein (D-8), Daniel Biss (D-9), Iris Martinez (D-20) and Daniel Kotowski (D-28) all voted against the bill and supported the veto.
Several state senators issued statements opposing the veto on the Democratic Caucus Web site.
“I am disappointed — but not surprised — Governor Quinn waited so long to veto concealed carry while he tried to score political points,” state Senator Tom Cullerton (D-23) said. “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.”
“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 conceal carry process for trained, law-abiding citizens,” state Senator Bill Haine (D-56) said.
“I am disappointed in the governor’s action to veto the bipartisan concealed-carry measure passed by the General Assembly in May,” state Senator Mike Jacobs (D-36) said. “We need a concealed-carry law that applies to all gun owners equally, regardless of where you live.”
“He has ignored the will of the people, the courts and the General Assembly” state Senator John Sullivan (D-47) said of Quinn. “I will work strenuously to see that the veto is overridden so Illinois, though last to do so, will finally allow concealed carry.”
“This doesn’t come as a shock to anyone,” state Senator Gary Forby (D-59) said. “We knew this governor was going to make this political. If he had concerns about the bill, maybe he should have been more involved when lawmakers spent months working on it. Instead, he makes major changes to the bill after it passed both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities.”