Updated: July 2, 2013 8:09AM
Illinois is going in the wrong direction on gun safety.
At a time when gunfire claims life after life on city streets, when the horrors of mass killing after mass killing stun the nation, the Illinois Legislature has chosen to make it easier to let guns get into the hands of criminals. Gov. Pat Quinn has no choice but to veto this shameful legislation, though it cleared both houses in the General Assembly with veto-proof margins.
On Friday, the Legislature passed a bill that would allow people throughout the state to carry concealed weapons. Local authorities would have no control over who gets concealed-carry permits.
People would be permitted to carry concealed firearms even into restaurants that serve liquor. Restaurants would be allowed to post signs prohibiting guns, but the penalty for violations would be only a fine. The threat of a fine isn’t sufficient to forestall the dangerous combination of liquor and guns.
The bill also preempts the right of home-rule governments to enact future laws on assault weapons to protect their residents. Current laws, such as Chicago’s assault weapons ban, would be grandfathered in, and new ones could be enacted within 10 days after the legislation becomes law. After that, home-rule governments would be powerless to act when unforeseen problems arise.
The law also invalidates Chicago’s handgun registry.
As if to emphasize its disdain for citizens’ safety, the Legislature on Friday also rejected a bill from Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) that would have limited the size of ammunition magazines.
High-capacity ammunition magazines make it easier to kill large numbers of people quickly. Limiting the size of magazines wouldn’t stop mass murderers, but it might reduce the carnage. Quinn said he was “very disappointed” this bill didn’t pass.
The best that Mayor Rahm Emanuel could say Friday was that this concealed-carry bill wasn’t as bad as earlier versions, and that he would work for new laws to get firearms off the streets.
The only positive note on guns Friday was the passage of a separate bill pushed by state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) that would require the reporting of lost or stolen guns and that FOID cards be validated during private sales. That would make it harder for gun traffickers to operate with impunity.
But as significant as what passed is what didn’t: a bill requiring universal background checks, the most effective way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
The effort to enact concealed-carry legislation started after a three-judge panel of the 7th District U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in December that Illinois’ concealed-carry ban was unconstitutional. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has until June 24 to appeal that ruling.
Instead of acting to reduce the slaughter in the streets, the Legislature has chosen to invite more killing.