Gov. Pat Quinn is using heightened sensitivity over guns to bolster his push of a state ban on assault weapons. Quinn says he has spoken with legislative leaders and members of the General Assembly, and is urging them to act as soon as possible. “It’s time for all of us in Illinois to begin to save lives by banning assault weapons, [and] banning high-capacity ammunition magazines that are used to kill people,” he said. He said lawmakers should take this up immediately upon their return to Springfield in the first week of January.
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He says public sentiment is in agreement with this, after the massacre of school children last week in Connecticut. He tried using an amendatory veto to enact a ban this summer after the movie theater massacre in Colorado, but that was overridden for procedural reasons as much as on the merits of the bill.
A federal assault weapons ban took effect in 1994, but it expired in 2004 and was not extended. The difficulty in enacting such a ban is to define the weapons in such a way that the objectionable ones are covered by the ban, but unintended weapons are not covered.
Assault weapons are commonly considered weapons that have the capacity to fire a large number of rounds without having to be re-loaded. They are viewed by gun-control advocates as not having a sporting purpose, and as designed to be used for attack, rather than defense. Gun rights defenders say all manner of weapons can be used for defense, if the oncoming attack is serious enough.