Illinois voters probably consider themselves ahead of the game whenever a governor manages to make it through an entire term without being indicted. That said, current Republican Governor Bruce Rauner isn’t terribly popular in the Land o’ Lincoln. While the election is still six months away, he trails the Democrat nominee by double digits.
He’s also in a tough spot legislatively. Democrats in Springfield have been beavering away for months at a passel of gun control bills. While he vetoed the hated gun dealer licensing bill in March, there are plenty more bills within a single vote of landing on his desk.
Down in the polls, he tried an electoral hail Mary this week. When one of the gun control bills landed on his desk recently — a three-day wait on “assault weapons” purchases — he used Illinois’ amendatory veto process to, in essence, draft his own proposed package of compromise “reforms.”
Basically, he’s proposing to trade a group of the Democrats’ anti-gun want-list items for funding school resource officers and the reinstitution of the death penalty for mass murderers and cop killers. Rauner’s gun control bargaining chips include a 72-hour wait on all gun purchases (it’s currently 72 hours on handguns and 24 on long guns) and a clean bump stock ban. Additionally, he throws in gun violence restraining orders.
To his credit, Rauner’s “Lethal Violence Order of Protection” provision adds civil penalties for those filing “frivolous or vexatious” complaints, including paying all legal fees and court costs of the subject of a bogus confiscation petition.
If you’re wondering what constitutes a “mass murderer” in the Governor’s proposal, it’s two or more killed in one incident. And because Illinois’ famously broken legal system has convicted so many innocent people while letting lots of the worst offenders go (it’s so bad they outlawed capital punishment six years ago), Rauner wants set a higher bar for a death penalty verdict, requiring a finding of guilt “beyond all doubt” whatever that means.
The Democrat-controlled legislature has zero incentive to go along with the Republican Gov.
The changes the governor is seeking require approval by the General Assembly. And if legislators opt to not take up his amendatory veto, the entire proposal will die. Lawmakers can also choose to accept the changes with a simple majority, or push for an override — with 71 votes required in the House and 36 in the Senate.
There’s a chance some measures within his veto will pass on their own, notwithstanding what happens to the package. There’s a bump stock ban bill and a measure to allow family members and law enforcement to petition a court to disarm individuals. Both bills are awaiting action in the Illinois House.
Illinois Dems would rather eat Tide Pods than give Rauner a “win” he can use in his campaign.
The Governor clearly made the political calculation that this move will burnish his law-and-order image, even if the Dems in Springfield tell him to take a hike. And, given the northern Illinois electorate, he probably doesn’t think he can get away with vetoing all of the gun control bills headed his way and this gets him out in front of the issue.
Watching the sausage-making process in Springfield isn’t for the squeamish. Unfortunately, in this batch, one of the first things to be ground up in the process will be Illinoisans’ gun rights.