WOODLAWN — On the eve of a potential override of his concealed-carry gun law rewrite, Gov. Pat Quinn pointed to ongoing violence in Chicago as a reason for his “common-sense gun laws.”
“A young boy is battling for his life, Jaden Donald. It’s important that we understand he was watching Fourth of July fireworks when he was shot, a 5-year-old boy,” said the governor, who also noted that a grandmother was shot on her porch.
“On Tuesday there will be a showdown in Springfield,” Quinn said of the potential override vote of his concealed-carry amendatory veto.
National Rifle Association officials "are not the experts," the governor said, speaking at news conference on the South Side. "The experts are the men and women gathered here today who live in the community of our state who know firsthand what the violence is doing to those communities. And they are saying to all of us, we will not have silence about the violence.”
Quinn has been making the rounds in Chicago since late last week to bolster his case that a bill pending in the Legislature to allow Illinois residents to carry concealed handguns is flawed.
On Friday, Quinn stood outside Wrigley Field to tout the change he made to the bill to try to ban concealed handguns in any business that sells alcohol.
On Saturday, Quinn marched in Woodlawn with the Rev. Corey Brooks and members of his New Beginnings Church as they took part in an anti-violence demonstration.
"We're battling for common-sense gun safety laws," Quinn said. "As we continue to fight the gun violence that plagues many communities, the common-sense changes I made last week are crucial to public safety.
"We want to make sure legislators know voting to override my veto is a prescription for gun violence."
Quinn has made the Chicago appearances in hopes of gaining support for his amendatory veto of the concealed carry legislation, which had been approved in both houses of the General Assembly. Quinn made nine changes to the bill, including limiting the amount of ammunition that can be carried.
"The people of Illinois deserve common-sense gun policies that keep them safe. No one needs to carry more than one gun and 10 rounds of ammunition for self-protection," Quinn said.
On Saturday, demonstrators marched in the neighborhood around Brooks' church as they decried the violence that's plagued the city, particularly on a bloody Fourth of July weekend.
"Stop the violence. Save our children," the crowd chanted.
"This is awesome. We're all together doing stuff even if it's just walking," Candace Watkins said as she struggled to push her son's stroller through the streets. "This is what we want: gun laws that are sensible."
Watkins said she hoped the walk would send a message to the community.
"Hopefully, it shows that we exist ... that there are peaceful people in the neighborhood. Let's not kill them," she said.
On Monday, Quinn visited the Rev. B.T. Little Community Center to sign two laws aimed at fighting gang crimes. The new laws would “protect gang crime witnesses” and “require school officials to report illegal gang activity.”
“I think we all understand the danger of gun violence, we understand the danger of gangs and we want to make sure that we protect the people. That’s our foremost duty as human beings,” said Quinn.
Quinn thanked State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Westchester) and State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) who sponsored the bill that created the Gang Crime Witness Protection Act. The act would assist those who are actively aiding in the prosecution of gang crimes.
“This legislation will empower people who might be afraid to testify against members of organized crime regimes,” Van Pelt said. “If witnesses are willing to tell the authorities everything they know about criminal activity, they can help stop the violence that is rampant in our communities.”
The second bill Quinn signed would require principals and assistant principals to report any illegal weapons use or any illegal gang activity.