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DeKalb County lawmakers disagree with Quinn’s changes to concealed carry bill

DeKALB – Local lawmakers said they support overriding Gov. Pat Quinn’s alterations to a concealed-
carry measure, which include setting a one-gun limit on the number of firearms a person can carry and banning weapons entirely from establishments where alcohol is served.

The Democratic governor used his amendatory veto power Tuesday to change legislation sent to him after months of intense debate and compromise. He added provisions on signage, employers’ rights and allowing local communities to create their own laws limiting assault weapons.

Within hours of Quinn’s announcement, Illinois’ legislative leaders called a session for July 9 to deal with the changes. It is the same day as a federal court’s deadline for Illinois to adopt a concealed-
carry law.

All of DeKalb’s lawmakers – state Reps. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley, and Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, and state Sens. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, and Tim Bivins, R-Dixon – said they would vote to override Quinn’s changes, a move that would require a three-fifths majority in both chambers. The original bill had the required votes to do it.

“Gov. Quinn did not participate in the negotiations on this bill,” Syverson said in a statement. “Instead, he’s decided to play politics and disrespect the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Illinois is the only state that prohibits all of its residents from carrying concealed firearms. But a December ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Appeals Court determined it was unconstitutional and set the deadline for lawmakers to comply.

Quinn made clear he never agreed with the ruling and said lawmakers put together the bill in a “hurried way,” influenced by the National Rifle Association.

“There are serious flaws in this bill that jeopardize public safety of the people of Illinois,” Quinn said at a packed Chicago news conference attended by nearly 100 anti-violence advocates.

He played up the city’s violence with a list of high-
profile speakers including the Rev. Michael Pfleger, who has led anti-violence marches, and a former Secret Service agent who was injured in the shooting of President Ronald Reagan.

Bivins, a former county sheriff who was heavily involved in debates on concealed carry, was very critical of the rhetoric Quinn used to justify the changes.

“The thing he has to remember is law-abiding citizens, not criminals,” Bivins said. “Some of his comments ... make it sound like we’re talking about criminal elements.” 

The tone was in stark contrast to the other part of the concealed-carry debate in more conservative downstate Illinois where the focus has been on gun owners’ rights. Demmer criticized Quinn for trying to undo months of negotiations between interested parties.

Instead of having property owners opt-out of allowing concealed weapons on their premises, Quinn changed the language so that property owners would have to opt-in.

“That’s one example we were able to come to a compromise. It’s a total reversal of it,” Demmer said. “The bill I voted for was a good, fair, compromise bill. I don’t think any of the changes the governor made it any better.”

Pritchard said he could understand some of Quinn’s changes, including language that would prevent gun owners from taking their weapons into any establishment that serves alcohol. That’s a provision gun owners would not bend on in legislative negotiations, but Pritchard said he understood the concern.

However, the legislature has to take all of Quinn’s changes into one single vote.

“Some of them might be acceptable, but I doubt the House will sustain any of them,” Pritchard said. “It’s a one vote override or sustain, and I would assume this will be an override of the veto.”

Senate President John Cullerton said there were issues worth discussing with his caucus, but that he would talk with House Speaker Michael Madigan about an override, spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said. Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown said lawmakers would be back in Springfield next week.

“It’s too bad the governor wasn’t engaged in the legislative session,” Brown said. “Most of the provisions were pretty thoroughly debated in the House and Senate.”

• The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

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