Will the Newtown, CT school shootings have an effect on Illinois leaders' approach to gun legislation?
Gov. Pat Quinn may have provided the first clue in his response to Friday's shootings that took the lives of 28 people, mostly children. Here's a portion of a statement Quinn's office released Friday afternoon:
- "It is the foremost duty of government to protect public safety, especially the safety of children and students. As governor and as a parent, I intend to spearhead passage of strict laws that will protect our children and the people of Illinois from gun violence."
The shootings occurred the same week the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Illinois' ban on concealed carry weapons.
Lawmakers have 180 days to come up with a law legalizing the concealed carry of weapons.
Quinn said earlier this week that he would leave the decision whether to appeal the ruling up to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, but is in favor of instituting "reasonable restrictions," such as denying guns to people with mental illness and a complete ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Many Chicago aldermen believe lifting the concealed carry ban will lead to more violence. Mayor Rahm Emanuel focused his comments on the grieving families Friday, but is on record in his opposition to legalizing the concealed carry law. He hasn't said whether he believes Madigan should appeal the ruling, but has offered Chicago resources if the AG's office requests it.
Coincidentally, Emanuel held a roundtable discussion with a community leaders, elected officials and clergy Friday morning to discuss approaches to fighting the spread of illegal guns. He says the group came up with a "number of innovative ideas that we will be pursuing in the coming weeks and months."
But those in favor of looser restrictions are sticking by their guns.
Republican State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who is considering a run for governor, says proper training and checks are a must.
"The fact of the matter is, for the person to say the gun is the problem ... I do not agree with that," Rutherford said.
Chicago's Shawn Gowder filed the suit against the concealed carry law that was declared unconstitutional.
"I live in Chicago, I live in a war zone on a daily basis. There's more people killed Chicago -- South Side and West Side, than there is in Afghanistan," Gowder said Friday.
Quinn ordered all flags across Illinois to be flown at half-staff beginning Friday.