Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Quinn says public safety is his top priority for concealed carry law

By Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn said any concealed carry bill in Illinois would have to contain safety restrictions to get his approval.

“The court did say for the reasons of public safety that reasonable limitations can be applied...and I think it’s important that we stress that. Public safety comes first,” Quinn told reporters in Chicago today.

After a federal court ordered the General Assembly yesterday to approve a concealed carry law within 180 days, supporters said they would not be as willing to compromise on a more restrictive bill. “We just wanted them to work with us in the past, and they never wanted to,” Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Harrisburg Democrat, said of those who did not back his concealed carry legislation. After Quinn stated publicly that he would veto the bill, Phelps’ bill legislation did not get enough votes to pass when it was called on the House last year. His proposal required training for a concealed carry permit and put limits on where guns would be allowed. But now that a court has signed off on concealed carry, Phelps and others say they will likely present a less restrictive plan. “You can’t argue with the courts,” he said.

Quinn did not get specific on what he wants to see in a bill, but he said public safety is his priority. “We’re going to take a look at everything: not only bills that have been introduced in Illinois, but the laws that exist in other states. We want to get the very best law that protects public safety. That’s where I’m coming from, and I’m going to insist on that, and,frankly, you don’t have a law until you have the governor’s signature.” Quinn said it is up to Attorney General Lisa Madigan to decide whether to appeal the ruling. “I’ll trust her judgment.”

The governor used the news of the ruling to again call for the ban of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips in Illinois “We are not going to have people marching along Michigan Avenue or any other avenue in the state of Illinois with military style assault weapons, weapons that are designed to kill people,” Quinn said today. During the veto session, the legislature overturned a veto that Quinn used to tack such a ban onto another bill. After that vote, he said he planned to back such a proposal through the legislative process.

Quinn commented on another court ruling today. The Illinois Supreme Court yesterday lifted a court order that had been preventing the governor to move ahead on a plan to close several Illinois Department of Corrections facilities. “I’m happy the court ruled in our favor, and now we’ll carry out what the court told us.”

While the Senate voted to override Quinn’s vetoes of the money for the facilities, the House let the vetoes stand. Quinn used his veto pen to remove $19.4 million for the super-maximum security prison near Tamms and $21.2 million for the women’s prison in Dwight from the budget passed by lawmakers in the spring session. In addition to the prisons, he plans to close three transition centers meant to help inmates re-enter society. He also cut $8.9 million for a youth prison in Joliet and $6.6 million for a youth prison in Murphysboro. Quinn said without the money to fund them, the facilities cannot remain open. “We’ll follow the proper legal process in order to go through the court system, but the bottom line is last week the Illinois General Assembly did not override my veto, I vetoed money for these prisons and other facilities,” Quinn said today.

 But the Quinn administration has not released a timeline for the closures and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 plans to continue its appeal, which is pending in a lower court. “AFSCME members are extremely disappointed in this ruling. The injunction is vital to upholding the union’s right to seek judicial review of an arbitrator’s findings on crucial health and safety concerns. Nonetheless, we intend to vigorously pursue that appeal. This ruling doesn’t change the fact that closing any prison will worsen severe overcrowding throughout the correctional system, making the remaining prisons more dangerous for employees, inmates and ultimately the public,” Anders Lindall, spokesman for AFSCME Council 31, said in a written statement.

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