Governor Pat Quinn today signed new laws that will help fight gang crimes and protect those who aid law enforcement in these efforts. Today's actions are part of Governor Quinn's agenda to ensure the safety of all people in every community across Illinois.
"All Illinois residents have the right to be safe in their homes, schools and on our streets," Governor Quinn said. "These new laws give us more tools to fight gang violence, crack down on the criminals and protect those who are doing the right thing for public safety."
House Bill 1139, sponsored by State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Westchester) and State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), creates the Gang Crime Witness Protection Act. The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority will establish a Gang Crime Witness Protection Program to assist those who are actively aiding in the prosecution of gang crimes. The program will reimburse counties for assistance they provide victims and witnesses, including temporary living costs and moving expenses. The new law takes effect immediately.
"We have to show people that the law is stronger than street gangs," Welch said. "These bills will help make our schools safer by allowing for greater communication between our principals and law enforcement, and protect those who have the courage to stand up to gang violence."
"This legislation will empower people who might be afraid to testify against members of organized crime regimes," Van Pelt said. "If witnesses are willing to tell the authorities everything they know about criminal activity, they can help stop the violence that is rampant in our communities."
House Bill 2768, also sponsored by State Rep. Welch along with State Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park), requires school principals and assistant principals to report any illegal weapons use or possession, or any illegal gang activity, to the proper law enforcement officials. The bill also requires courts and law enforcement officials to notify principals when one of their students is detained for illegal gang activity. The new law takes effect Jan. 1.
As part of his public safety agenda, last week Governor Quinn issued an amendatory veto of House Bill 183, legislation that would allow and regulate the carrying of concealed handguns in public places. The changes address several serious safety problems with the legislation and will make communities safer across the state.
The governor's changes to House Bill 183 limit concealed carry guns to one per person and one ammunition magazine holding no more than 10 cartridges. The changes would also continue to allow local governments to enact assault weapons bans in their communities; keep guns out of establishments serving alcohol, including most family restaurants; and make the presumption that weapons cannot be carried onto private property or in the workplace unless permission to do so is granted. The Governor's changes establish a better law that puts public safety first. Full details of the governor's amendatory veto as well as how to contact your legislator are available at www.KeepIllinoisSafe.org.
The Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to return to Springfield on July 9 to act on Governor Quinn's amendatory veto. They can vote to accept the veto, which requires a three-fifths majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, or they could vote to override the veto, which requires a three-fifths majority in both chambers. If both chambers do nothing, House Bill 183 will not be enacted and Illinois' current concealed carry law will be struck down by the courts.