CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn went to the center of one of Illinois' most popular entertainment districts Friday to try to sway lawmakers to support his changes to legislation allowing the concealed carry of firearms, saying letting people carry guns in some bars and restaurants is "a prescription for violence and disaster."
Standing outside Wrigley Field, with the many bars and restaurants of Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood as a backdrop, Quinn urged voters to call their legislators and tell them to support tougher restrictions he wrote into the bill, including a ban on guns in any place that serves alcohol. He said he wants places like Wrigleyville – where hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to see the historic ball field, catch a Cubs game and down a few beers – to remain safe and welcoming to tourists.
The measure approved by the Legislature currently bars guns only from businesses where liquor sales make up 50 percent or more of gross sales.
"We want [visitors] to come together and celebrate. We want them to have a good time," the Chicago Democrat said. "But we don't want any incidents of violence in any bars or restaurants anywhere in Illinois."
Lawmakers are scheduled to meet Tuesday to vote on an override of Quinn's amendatory veto, which he issued earlier this week. Tuesday also is the deadline the 7th U.S. Circuit Appeals Court gave Illinois to pass a concealed carry law as part of a December ruling that the state's ban was unconstitutional.
All 49 other states have laws allowing public, concealed carry of firearms.
The legislation approved in May was a hard-fought compromise between supporters of gun rights and those who fear allowing more guns on the streets will result in increased violence, particularly in Chicago. It passed both the House and Senate with the support of well more than the three-fifths majorities needed to override Quinn's changes.
Several of those lawmakers reacted angrily to Quinn's actions, accusing him of playing politics in advance of a 2014 election in which he could face a Democratic primary.
But Glenn Keefer, managing partner of Keefer's restaurant in Chicago and a board member of the lllinois Restaurant Association, said Friday the provision that allows guns in some but not all places that serve alcohol is "illogical." He said the restaurant association supports Quinn's change because as currently written the law would require some bars and restaurants to post signs telling customers guns aren't allowed. Those signs are often invisible to guests, Keefer said.
"Consistent rules are better," he said.
He also said he worries an employee or a guest may have a confrontation with an intoxicated patron who is carrying a loaded gun.
Quinn said he has been calling legislators trying to persuade them to support his changes. He also plans other events over the weekend where he hopes to inspire voters to put pressure on their lawmakers.