Illinois Governor Makes Controversial Move
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday reworked a gun control bill to include a number of proposals including one to reinstate the death penalty for some crimes.
The bill that was vetoed, HB-1468, would mandate a 72-hour waiting period for some semi-autos as well as .50 BMG caliber rifles. Current state regulations have a 24-hour wait on longarms with sponsors of the move arguing more time is needed for guns classified as “assault weapons.” Not only did Rauner reject the proposal as not going far enough, but recast it to include a host of additional measures.
“Gun violence has rocked the nation and our state,” Rauner said. “This is a responsible, bipartisan approach to the problem that will help ensure the safety and security of our children, our peacekeepers, our families, and our communities in Illinois.”
Rauner’s counter-proposal would expand the 72-hour wait to all guns in the state, ban bump stocks and trigger crank devices, and institute a Gun Violence Restraining Order system to take guns temporarily from those thought to be at risk to themselves or others. Going further, it would require judges and prosecutors to explain when plea agreements are negotiated with violent offenders in gun crimes and move to fund additional school resource officers and mental health professionals to tackle violence on campus.
The most controversial measure, especially for pro-gun control urban Democrats in the state legislature who may consider the otherwise sweeping gun regulation package as proposed by Rauner a big political victory, would institute a “death penalty murder” statute under Illinois law that would apply to cop killers and those who kill two or more people. In 2003, Republican Gov. George Ryan blanket commuted the sentences of all 167 inmates on the state’s death row, an act that Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn followed up on with in 2011 by abolishing the practice altogether.
The rewrite, which some question the legality of under the state constitution, could carry enough poison pills on each side of the aisle to bar any consideration, especially with lawmakers set to wrap up the current session at the end of the month. Sponsors of the bill called it grandstanding by Rauner.
“The governor has prioritized his own politics over saving lives,” said state Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Buffalo Grove. “My legislation to create a 72-hour waiting period when purchasing an assault weapon received bipartisan support in the House and Senate. And without any word from the governor, he decided to veto it and change the language putting politics ahead of good policy.”
Second Amendment advocates welcomed the move by the Governor. “While not everything we had hoped for, we applaud the Governor for taking a thoughtful first step in tackling the issue of violence that torments our state,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association in a press release. “The Governor understands it’s not law-abiding gun owners that terrorize our state with violence, criminals and those that should not have guns are the root of gun violence problems.”