Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn invoked his amendatory veto power to modify the state legislature’s high-profile concealed carry bill that was approved last month with a bipartisan consensus.
According to Quinn, a staunch pro-gun control supporter, House Bill 183 had significant public safety issues that he felt obligated to fix.
“I have carefully reviewed every part of this legislation. This is a flawed bill with serious safety problems that must be addressed,” Quinn said at a Tuesday press conference. “Therefore, I am compelled to use my constitutional authority to rectify several specific issues, to establish a better law to protect the people of Illinois.”
His proposed changes include:
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.
Quinn made it clear in his brief speech that he still does not support House Bill 183 — which allows a citizen to carry a concealed handgun if he/she passes a background check, successfully completes a 16 hour firearms and safety training course and pay a $150 fee — but was forced to live with the measure after a federal court declared Illinois’s ban on concealed carry unconstitutional back in December. Following the ruling, lawmakers were given a hard deadline — June 9 — to draft a bill that would allow law-abiding citizens to carry their firearms in public.
Arguably, Quinn’s biggest objection with the legislation was that if failed to place limits on the number of handguns and the size of the magazines a law-abiding citizen could carry.
“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,” Quinn wrote in press release.
“Recent shootings, such as the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman fired 154 bullets in less than five minutes, have put a spotlight on the extreme and unnecessary danger posed by high-capacity ammunition magazines,” Quinn added.
“If Illinois is going to legalize the carrying of loaded, concealed guns, our state should do so with common sense and a commitment to preventing mass violence,” he concluded.
This is not the first time Quinn has used his amendatory veto power to change a pro-gun law. In August of 2012, Quinn used this power to turn a moderately pro-gun piece of legislation into a ban on semi-automatic rifles, high capacity magazines and .50-caliber rifles.
Initially, Senate Bill 681 was crafted to allow law-abiding Illinois residents to purchase ammunition online or via the mail from Illinois suppliers, under current law residents can only buy ammo from out-of-state dealers.
However, once Quinn got his hands on it, he turned it into a full-fledge ban on “assault weapons.” SB 681 eventually died in the Senate.
With respect to HB 183, Quinn did not try to overtly ban “assault” weapons, though by removing the preemption provision that would preclude cities and local municipalities from enacting AWBs (reinstating the “home rule” clause), he left the door wide open for more AWBs like the one in Cook County.
Looking ahead, it’s not clear as to whether the General Assembly will embrace Quinn’s changes or attempt to override them with a three-fifths majority in both chambers. Regardless, gun owners in the Land of Lincoln should have an answer in the not too distant future as lawmakers are scheduled to return to Springfield on July 8, to reexaime HB 183 along with a proposal to address the state’s $100 billion pension debt.