Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Downstate Doesn't Like Quinn's Assault Weapons Ban

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Gov. Pat Quinn’s amendatory veto banning assault weapons is popular in Chicago -- today, the Sun-Times’s Laura Washington lauded him for taking “a huge step toward ending the reign of the gun.”

    But how is it playing Downstate? Guns are an issue that divide Chicago-area legislators from their Downstate colleagues, regardless of party. So not surprisingly, Quinn’s attempt to ban the rapid-fire guns is unpopular on the prairie. Here are what a few Downstate newspapers have to say about it:

    While a reasonable discussion about gun policy is needed, most likely at the federal level, this move should be recognized for what it is: A political grandstanding move that is ill-conceived and ill-timed.

    Even with a renewed nationwide debate over gun laws, this legislation is going nowhere. In using his amendatory veto powers, Quinn gutted a bill related to ammunition sales and added language prohibiting the manufacture, delivery, sale and possession of semi-automatic assault weapons and attachments. The proposal would specifically ban the AK-47, AR-15 and TEC-9.

    The legislation is dead on arrival…Many downstate politicians — Democrat and Republican — are opposed to any firearm bans and certainly don’t want to discuss that explosive issue months before the election. They also are skittish about pension reform and don’t really need another excuse not to trust the governor.

    Quinn doesn’t have a lot of support in the General Assembly, and he foolishly wasted what little he had with the assault weapon ban announcement.
    -- (Bloomington) Pantagraph

    One of the challenges in sifting through gun-control debates is the Fun with Numbers both sides play. Suggest a gun-control idea and within minutes, proponents and opponents will be on the street with statistics to support their points of view.   

    We use that as a backdrop for the debate Gov. Pat Quinn has reignited in Illinois with an amendatory veto that would, if upheld, prohibit the manufacture, delivery, sale and possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and attachments.

    Quinn’s veto is highly unlikely to be sustained, and we suspect even he understands that. A cynic might say it’s just a quick attempt by the governor to grab easy headlines. The more generous among us would say it’s an effort by Quinn to spur a needed conversation in light of the recent tragedy at a Colorado movie theater.

    Because of political realities, Quinn’s ban on assault weapons almost assuredly will fail. And that’s a shame.

    But if it gets us talking about the issue, perhaps that will lead to a greater success in the future.
     -- (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald

    Quinn also faces a serious backlash outside of the Chicago area to the idea of restricting people’s rights. The Second Amendment makes no distinction of prohibiting weapons based on power — to the contrary, some would argue, it would have the general populace armed with the same weapons as its military forces.

    Pundits espouse that restrictions would have prevented a psychopath’s ability to shoot up a midnight movie showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 and leaving at least 50 wounded.

    It would not have changed things. During the period assault weapons were banned, there were at least two dozen mass killings, most committed by gunmen. Depraved people will circumvent obstacles.

    Prohibiting the rights of law-abiding citizens because of the actions of the criminal element fails the test of logic. That would mean we should ban gasoline because it is the favorite tool of arsonists.
    --
    (Alton) Telegraph

    Is the irony lost on everyone else? Guns, which are designed with one purpose — to kill and maim — claim fewer lives than a variety of products designed for pleasure and convenience. I’m talking about automobiles, alcohol and tobacco.

    Yet, aside from warning labels and lawsuits galore, there is still no movement to increase regulation of alcohol and tobacco. We already tried banning one and we know what happened there. Some point to the licensing system and training required for automobile ownership/operation and ask why guns, dangerous as they are, require less stringent ownership requirements. Well, what about alcohol and tobacco? I suppose children are taught the dangers of irresponsible use of these drugs in health classes and DARE programs.

    I would venture to guess 99.9 percent of the private owners of assault weapons use them for recreational target shooting. But their right to fun is outweighed by the havoc wreaked by the .1 percent who use the guns for malevolent purposes. Does the average Joe need an assault weapon? No. Does the average Joe need three packs of smokes a day or a fifth of whiskey or a case of beer and the resulting health problems and social strife thse products produce? Do cars need to go faster than 80 mph when no state in the union has a posted speed limit greater than that?

    The proposed ban is a feel-good measure that won’t achieve the peace and safety it is hoped will result.
      -- (Galesburg) Register-Guard