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Gov. Quinn stands up to People of the Gun

People gather outside Century 16 movie theatre AurorColo. scene mass shooting early July 20.  |   Karl Gehring~Denver

People gather outside the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., at the scene of a mass shooting early July 20. | Karl Gehring~Denver Post via AP

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Updated: September 7, 2012 6:07AM

It’s about time someone stepped up.

Last week, I lamented the lack of leadership on gun control. Even after last month’s movie theater horror in Aurora, Colo., the politicians are still cowering and quivering.

From President Barack Obama on down, the politicians fear alienating the People of the Gun. Or grabbing for the millions the National Rifle Association shells out to those who do their bidding.

Last week, Gov. Pat Quinn took a huge step toward ending the reign of the gun. He sent an amendatory veto to the Illinois General Assembly that would prohibit military-style assault rifles, as well as magazines that can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition.

In a message to legislators, Quinn wrote that while he is a “strong supporter” of the Second Amendment, “the proliferation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines undermines public safety and the right of personal security of every citizen.”

It’s about time, and Quinn’s timing is exquisite.

In a civilized society, the sole purpose of assault weapons is to slaughter us in our theaters, schools and shopping malls.

Quinn’s proposal would outlaw the Uzi, Beretta AR-70, TEC-9, Colt AR-15 and Street Sweeper among many others. Such weapons are “designed to kill humans quickly and efficiently,” according to the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

His opposition is rabid and loaded for bear. The People of the Gun — pro-gun legislators, activists and pundits — have excoriated Quinn, accusing him of using the Aurora massacre to grab cheap media limelight and score political points.

Yes, and . . .? He’s a politician.

I have my beefs with Quinn, but he’s on target here.

The longtime proponent of an assault weapons ban made it a major tenet in his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, which hurt him with Downstate voters.

Quinn is one reason why Illinois remains the only state that does not allow people to carry concealed guns. Now he wants Illinois to join other states that ban assault weapons: California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Quinn brushes aside his critics. He wants the Legislature to take up an assault weapons ban this fall. It’s “a policy issue that needs to be debated and resolved,” he told me Wednesday in an interview.

“I don’t know what harm there is in having a debate and having a vote. I think that’s what legislators are there for,” he said. “And I think most people feel the way I do, that, when someone major happens that rocks the country.”

Quinn must be tired of attending funerals, like those for the five students killed in the 2008 shootings at Northern Illinois University. And for John Thomas Larimer, the sailor from Crystal Lake who was killed in Colorado massacre.

“Well, we ought to at least, you know, in the memory of those who lost their lives in Aurora, consider this bill,” Quinn said.


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