Quincy Mayor John Spring says he is opposed to legislation requiring gun owners to carry one million dollars in liability insurance and believes proposed Concealed Carry legislation "appears to be a reasonable bill".
In a news release issued Tuesday morning, Spring said the insurance legislation "would require Illinois gun owners to carry an arbitrary amount of one million dollars in liability insurance simply because they possess and enjoy lawful firearms. The bill makes no distinction between types or numbers of firearms. It makes no allowance for the individual owner's history of gun safety or claims experience. It forces the gun enthusiast to share otherwise personal insurance papers with the State Police."
Mayor Spring did not address Concealed Carry in his news release, though it too is progressing in house legislation. In an interview Tuesday morning, he told WTAD News he needed to do more research on the Illinois measure, but he believes it would be okay.
"It appears to be a reasonable bill if it certainly has precautions in it," Spring said. "I believe they are modeling it after Missouri's law, and Missouri seems to be perfectly fine with concealed carry."
Concealed Carry flies directly in the face of a group Spring belongs to, "Mayors Against Illegal Guns". This group is an offshoot of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. This group opposes Concealed Carry and also supports the repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment, which forbids the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from releasing information from its firearms trace database to anyone other than a law enforcement agency or prosecutor in connection with a criminal investigation, and any data deemed inadmissible in a civil lawsuit.
The mayor said he has asked State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) and State Representatives Jil Tracy (R-Mt. Sterling) and Rich Myers (R-Colchester) to oppose House Bill 687, regarding the liability insurance requirement. Click here to read that letter.
"Children growing up in the family sport of hunting properly learn and respect guns, which in turn prevents gun-related accidents, not legislation like House Bill 687," Spring said. "Hunting in Western Illinois has developed to be a seasonal industry that has a considerable economic impact in our region. House Bill 687 would hurt this industry."
In a meeting before the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce on Monday, State Senator John Sullivan said he supported Concealed Carry, but he didn't expect any gun legislation to advance this year.
"The hope is that if the gun control folks and the pro gun folks could get together, there could there be some sort of compromise," Sullivan said Monday morning. "I don't think that's likely. There's plenty of information spewed out on both sides."
There are two pieces of Concealed Carry legislation floating in the House. House Bill 245 would allow the Illinois State Police to issue the permits while House Bill 462 would allow county sheriffs to issue permits.
Tracy says she is probably leaning toward allowing the county sheriffs to handle the permits.
"The sheriffs may have a better guage if they want to do it," Tracy said. "The FOID card problems show the state police may not be able to do it as effectively."
Last week, Republican mayoral candidate Dave Bellis came out against Spring's participation in "Mayors Against Illegal Guns." Today, Bellis issued a news release saying "That's all well and good, but why didn't Mr. Spring just go ahead and quit the 'Mayors against Illegal Guns' group he is associated with?"
The Mayor also said there is no connection between his insurance opposition and his membership in "Mayors Against Illegal Guns". He says MAIG is focused solely on illegal firearms and not on weapons used in hunting, target shooting, or collecting.
Spring cited this past weekend's killing of three Chicago-area teens with an assault rifle as an example of the illegal guns the group opposes.