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Rauner mum on ‘bump stocks,’ but wants ‘good bipartisan conversation’

Gov. Bruce Rauner discusses the potential Thompson Center sale impact for taxpayers and public schools during a press conference in May. File Photo. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

A day after the Illinois House failed to pass legislation to ban “bump stocks,” Gov. Bruce Rauner — an avid hunter — declined to share his thoughts on the bill.

A Democrat-sponsored bill died in the Illinois House on Thursday, when Downstate Democrats joined Republicans to thwart the ban on devices that make a semi-automatic rifle shoot about as fast as a fully automatic weapon. But there is still another Republican measure — supported by the Illinois State Rifle Association — that would ban “bump stocks” specifically, and not other modifications as the unsuccessful measure did.

“Again, there are a number of regulations and regulatory bills being discussed in the General Assembly and I think I’m, I encourage the conversation,” Rauner said on Friday when asked whether he supports the Republican bill. “I look forward to, our team is participating in the conversation. I don’t want to comment prematurely or speculate about legislation, but there’s good conversations going on.”

He also declined to take a position when asked whether he supports bump stocks: “What I support is a good bipartisan conversation about these issues.”

Rauner hasn’t weighed in on any gun legislation in the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre. He routinely steers the questions about gun legislation to dealing with “mental illness.”

Earlier this month he encouraged “a good conversation as a society together as all Americans about what we can do to protect our constitutional rights and freedoms but also keep our communities safer.” He also wouldn’t comment on whether he’d support an assault weapons ban: “I’m not going to get into specific policies,” he said.

When asked about “bump stocks” on Oct. 4, the governor didn’t take a position, instead saying “these issues of individuals with mental illness harming others is a problem that we’ve had forever.”

Bump stocks are legal devices intended to help people with limited hand mobility fire a semi-automatic without the individual trigger pulls required. The devices fit over the rear-shoulder stock assembly and allow shooters to increase the firing rate from between 45 and 60 rounds per minute to between 400 and 800 rounds per minute.

Also on Friday, the governor said he is “deeply, deeply troubled” about rampant allegations of sexual harassment in Springfield uncovered by an open letter and Facebook page penned by women in Illinois politics.

“We should have zero tolerance for sexual harassment of any type in any circumstance,” Rauner said, adding he signed an executive order two years ago that created a code of conduct designed to ban sexual harassment and sexual misconduct within his administration. It includes required training for all employees, he said.

He also thanked the women who have come forward for “shining a light on the problem.”

“This is a good thing, long overdue and we’ve got to be aggressive in going after this kind of misbehavior,” Rauner said.

Rauner departs for a trade and research trip to Israel on Sunday, aimed at expanding business and research ties, while also meeting with university officials at Israeli universities to create partnerships for the Discover Partners Institute, a South Loop research and innovation center he’s hoping to build. The governor returns to Illinois on Nov. 3.