CHICAGO (CBS) — A day after repeatedly ducking questions about whether he would sign legislation to license gun dealers in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the measure.
“It’s just not right. It’s unnecessary burdensome regulation. It’s redundant on top of existing federal regulations. It’s crushing to our small business owners, and creates bureaucracy that really doesn’t help keep our communities safer,” he said.
The legislation, which passed the General Assembly last month, would require all gun dealers in Illinois to obtain licenses from the state. Rauner was repeatedly asked Monday whether he would sign the bill, but would only say he supports “comprehensive solution,” without saying whether that included licensing gun dealers.
In his official veto message, the governor said the focus should be on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
“The core issue is not which guns to legally ban or regulate,” he said. “We have ample proof that such narrowly focused legislative responses make for good political cover, but they do little to stop the illegal flow of guns into Illinois or prevent people from committing thousands of crimes in our state each year with illegal guns.”
While the gun dealer licensing legislation had bipartisan support in the House and Senate, it did not pass with enough votes to override a veto.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had repeatedly pressured Rauner to sign the legislation in recent weeks, said the governor’s veto is “absolutely 100 percent wrong.”
The mayor accused the governor of putting next week’s primary election before public safety. Rauner is facing a challenge from conservative Illinois Rep. Jeanne Ives, who had voted against the gun dealer licensing bill, and urged the governor to veto it.
“The primary concern cannot be a primary election, the primary concern has to be our safety, and I think the governor is on the wrong side today, and he’s on the wrong side of history,” the mayor said Tuesday afternoon at the City Club of Chicago.
The gun dealer licensing bill was the first piece of legislation sent to the governor in response to the deadly school shooting last month in Florida.
Rauner has said he supports a “comprehensive solution” on the gun control issue. On Monday, he said banning bump stocks, finding ways to make schools safer, keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and strengthening penalties for repeat gun offenders.
“We need to support the Second Amendment, and respect our Constitution, but we can also be thoughtful about ways that we can improve safety in our schools, and keep our citizens safe; for example by being much tougher on repeat gun offenders, repeat felons,” he said Tuesday. “To keep our schools safer, we could come up with ways to have highly trained, highly well-armed security personnel at our schools who are very, very talented and able to protect our students.”
The Illinois House has approved several other gun control measures in the wake of the Florida school shooting, including a ban on bump stocks and other modifications that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly, a 72-hour waiting period to purchase assault rifles, and increasing the age limit for buying assault rifles from 18 to 21. The Illinois Senate has yet to vote on those bills.