CHICAGO (CBS) — Cardinal Blase Cupich is urging Illinois lawmakers to search their conscience and override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of legislation requiring gun dealers to be licensed by the state.
Cupich was joined Tuesday morning by medical professionals who treat gun violence victims in the emergency room at Loyola University Medical Center.
The doctors and nurses that joined the cardinal on stage were among the team that treated 283 gunshot victims in fiscal 2017. That’s nearly double the number treated in 2015.
The turnover rate among physicians and nurses also has soared along with the number of shootings.
That’s why Cupich has backed the Illinois Gun Dealer Licensing Act, which would allow state regulators to inspect all Illinois gun dealers.
Last month, the governor vetoed that legislation, saying federal laws already in place adequately govern Illinois gun dealers.
Cupich said he disagrees.
“I think all of the people on this dais here disagree with that. Law enforcement wants it. They know that they have to have a way to track these weapons. They have to have a way to follow up once crimes are committed. There has to be the threat that people cannot have these guns with impunity,” he said.
The gun dealer licensing measure was passed in the House and Senate with simple majorities, so supporters will need to get additional support in the legislature to override Rauner’s veto.
The cardinal reached out to those lawmakers directly on Tuesday, saying now is the time to do what is right, not what is necessarily popular in their particular districts.
The Illinois State Rifle Association responded to the cardinal on Tuesday.
“We knew this was coming but I think we should have a division, not mix church and state. I disagree with him, and so do 2.2 million gun owners in this state,” ISRA executive director Richard Pearson said.
Supporters of the measure disagreed, saying support is strong, even among gun owners.