Updated: July 9, 2013 6:36PM
SPRINGFIELD-Illinois joined 49 other states Tuesday by approving legislation allowing gun owners to carry their weapons in public places, overriding Gov. Pat Quinn and dealing the governor a resounding defeat.
The Senate put the finishing touches on the override push, voting 41-17 to reject a series of changes Quinn had recommended to the concealed-carry legislation that passed in May. The Senate’s action followed a 77-31 vote by the House earlier Tuesday.
“It’s gonna be a big day for the state of Illinois,” said state Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton), the bill’s chief Senate sponsor.
Both the House and Senate roll calls easily exceeded the 71- and 36-vote thresholds needed in each respective chamber to override Quinn on the legislation, which takes effect immediately.
Quinn has been pushing lawmakers on a daily basis to accept his changes to the bill, but his aggressive PR blitz only managed to knock off 12 votes from the House’s original 89-28 roll call in support of the bill in May.
The legislation ends Illinois’ last-in-the-nation status as the only state that doesn’t permit gun owners to carry their weapons in public places. Quinn proposed a series of tweaks to the legislation, including placing limits on the number of guns and amount of ammunition gun owners can carry and banning them in any public places that serve alcohol.
“We’re going to make history today in Illinois. It’s been way too long,” state Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), the bill’s chief House sponsor, told reporters before the House vote.
After pushing for concealed carry in Illinois for decades, gun-rights advocates gained the leverage they’d always lacked when a federal appeals court in Chicago last December ruled that the state’s prohibition on gun owners taking their guns in public places was unconstitutional.
Given that court order, Phelps derided the Democratic governor Tuesday for “grandstanding” in pushing the amendatory veto.
“If the governor wants to get serious about crime, let’s find out about all the shootings going on in Chicago,” Phelps said. “They’ve got the strictest gun laws in the nation, but they still lead in shootings and murders.”
Before the Senate vote, the chamber approved three tweaks to the original concealed-carry legislation dealing with mental-health reporting, signage and a duty for concealed-carry licensees to inform police whether they’re carrying their weapons if stopped or detained for any reason.
That measure, which passed the Senate on a bipartisan 45-13 roll call, moved to the House, which was expected to take up the issue Tuesday afternoon.
There was one other development in the flurry of gun debate at the Statehouse: a call from state Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) on Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to open the door for the National Guard to come into the city to help quell gun violence.
“It’s almost as if there’s a war going on,” Davis told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It seems like it’s genocide, and those officials who can do something about it have chosen not to do anything about it. I’m calling for the National Guard to come to Chicago and ride up and down these streets.”