SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Gov. Pat Quinn must act quickly on legislation that would allow the carrying of concealed weapons in Illinois to avert a “public safety and constitutional crisis,” Senate Democrats said in a letter Thursday.
The plea signed by 23 Democrats, including Senate President John Cullerton, said Quinn should “make his intentions known” so lawmakers have time to react before a July 9 court-ordered deadline for implementing a plan.
The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, notes that authorities in at least eight counties are already refusing to prosecute those who carry concealed weapons. Some counties are setting up their own rules to allow public possession of concealed firearms because the existing law has been invalidated, even if it’s still on the books.
“If you intend to issue a veto or amendatory veto, we ask that you do it quickly. The General Assembly will need time to respond. Every day we get closer to the federal court’s July 9 deadline. Time is of the essence,” the letter said. “We urge you to act on this legislation now. The last thing we need is a public safety and constitutional crisis.”
Gun-rights advocates have maintained that blowing the deadline would mean any gun could be carried anywhere. Others have argued it would simply allow Chicago, which has long tried to restrict guns, to adopt highly restrictive carry ordinances.
The General Assembly sent Quinn a bill to end Illinois’ holdout as last in the nation to prohibit concealed carry after a federal appeals court ruled in December that the ban violates the Constitution’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The Democratic governor has been tight-lipped about his intentions.
The measure requires the same gun-toting rules statewide. Quinn had advocated allowing larger cities to adopt their own restrictions in the name of “local control.”
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. But earlier this week, she said the initiative is “a critical matter of public safety and it deserves careful review.”
“It is the responsibility of the governor to protect the people of Illinois and to do the right thing for the common interest,” Anderson said in a statement. “Gov. Quinn is doing his job. He is reviewing every line of this legislation to ensure that public safety comes first.”
The bill is HB183.