Quinn, Rauner disagree on gun control

 
 
Updated 10/7/2014 5:50 AM
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  • Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner says the right to carry a concealed weapon was a long time coming. In contrast, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn would place more restrictions on guns, particularly assault rifles.

    Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner says the right to carry a concealed weapon was a long time coming. In contrast, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn would place more restrictions on guns, particularly assault rifles. Thinkstock photo illustration

  • Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, left, is running for re-election against Republican Bruce Rauner.

    Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, left, is running for re-election against Republican Bruce Rauner.

Both Gov. Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner are unhappy with the concealed carry legislation that is now the law in Illinois, but that's where their agreement on Second Amendment issues ends.

The upcoming gubernatorial race pits Rauner, a hunting enthusiast, against Quinn, a longtime gun control supporter. During Daily Herald editorial board meetings with both candidates, they expressed distinctly different views on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, background checks and more.

Even problems with concealed carry are a cause of contention between the incumbent Democrat and Republican businessman from Winnetka.

A federal judge last year forced Illinois to permit concealed carry, the last state to do so. Quinn tried to add restrictions to the eventual proposal, but the legislature overrode his amendatory veto last summer.

"I really don't think it is proper for people to have a concealed gun on their person in a bar, but the legislature said otherwise," Quinn said.

Rauner says the right to carry a concealed weapon was a long time coming, but he believes the law is too confusing for gun owners because of specifics about where someone can and can't carry a gun.

"Concealed carry in Illinois was long overdue," Rauner said. "But, frankly, I think the one that got passed is too convoluted to be really good."

Rauner didn't specify if, or how, he would try to clarify it as governor.

"I don't have the perfect answer for it," he said.

Both Rauner and Quinn have said they want to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals.

"I believe we should have policies to keep guns out of the hands of severely mentally ill folks and criminals," Rauner said. "We should do everything we can to make sure guns are not in their hands."

Rauner said he won't go further than that.

"Going much beyond that raises all kinds of constitutional questions and we've got to be very cautious," Rauner said.

Quinn, meanwhile, said he will try again to get an assault weapons ban passed in Springfield.

"We fell one or two votes short, but we're not giving up," Quinn said.

To help garner support in Springfield the next time around, Quinn said he is asking the voters for advice.

That's why, on Nov. 4, Cook County ballots will include an advisory referendum on gun control issues.

"Our legislators need to see how the public feels about this, not just lobby groups that may be very loud," Quinn said. "We'll let the voters speak. We have to show them at the ballot box."

The initiative reads, "Shall the Illinois General Assembly enact the Illinois Public Safety Act (Senate Bill 3659) which would require universal background checks for firearm transfers and prohibit the sale and transfer of assault weapons, assault weapon attachments and high capacity ammunition magazines?"

Quinn said he will use the results to move the cause forward.

"I believe in democracy; some things don't happen overnight," Quinn said.

State Sen. Dan Kotowski, who sponsored the failed ban on assault weapons, said voters in Cook County will demonstrate they want more gun control.

"There's a great deal of support for reasonable gun safety measures," Kotowski said.

But Rauner said the problem of violence has deeper roots than gun control.

"Politicians like to talk about gun control to cover up their failure on crime and violence," Rauner said. "The real issue with violence and crime isn't gun regulation primarily; it's really poverty."

Rauner pivoted back to his plans for business and economic growth as a way to help families and bring down violence and gun crime in Illinois.

Though Rauner has campaigned on being a hunter and a supporter of the Second Amendment, he doesn't have the backing of the state's largest gun rights organization.

The Illinois State Rifle Association endorsed Kirk Dillard during the GOP primary and has declared "no preference" in the general election.

"He didn't answer our questionnaire, and we are kind of particular about that," said Richard Pearson, executive director of the association. "We want to know where people stand."

Pearson said the group needs a strong declaration of support for an endorsement.

"You won't tell us where you stand, we won't endorse you," he said. "I hear what (Rauner) says, but he never said it to me in writing."

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