Given a chance to strike a strong blow against gun violence in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner let our state down Tuesday.
Politics won out over personal integrity.
After years of debate and fine-tuning, the General Assembly last month passed legislation to require state licensing of gun dealers. The bill would have required gun shop owners and workers to be trained in background checks and theft prevention. It also included other measures, such as requiring training in the prevention of “straw” purchases, in which someone buys firearms for someone legally barred from purchasing a gun. The legislation would have made a significant dent in the number of guns from Illinois gun shops that show up at crime scenes in Chicago.
Rauner, who as governor has done little about gun violence, should have jumped at the chance to sign this bill. Instead, feeling heat on the right from primary challenger state Rep. Jeanne Ives, he vetoed it. Rather than fight the tragic flow of guns used in crimes, he sold out to his party’s conservative base just days before the March 20 election.
As Rauner vetoed the bill on Tuesday — only a day after crime victims, the Catholic archbishop of Chicago and police begged him to sign it — he cynically called for “thoughtful, bipartisan public safety solutions.” That is a pretty good description of the legislation he just vetoed.
Rauner also in recent days has called for a ban on bump stocks, which make semiautomatic rifles fire as rapidly as machine guns. That’s what an NRA puppet always says when desperate to look like a sensible person. Equally transparent is Rauner’s call for a “comprehensive solution.” That’s a rhetorical dodge to do nothing.
On Wednesday, thousands of students, teachers and others across the country are planning school walkouts to urge elected officials to do something about gun violence. A large majority of Illinoisans support the licensing of gun dealers. We hope supporters of gun dealer licensing can find enough votes to override Rauner’s veto.
Should Rauner prevail in this primary election, we’ll be sure to remind everybody of this veto in the fall, when he’ll be courting more moderate voters. The governor let Illinois down for political gain, and nobody should ever forget.