Illinois governor enters gun debate by calling for assault weapon ban

Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is trying to use veto powers to ban assault weapons and large-capacity ammunitions clips, but he faces tough opposition from state lawmakers amid the renewed national debate on gun control.

Quinn said Tuesday he will use the power to amend a Republican-backed bill related to residents receiving mail-order ammunition.

"It's very clear that these particular weapons are not designed to do anything but to have human targets," Quinn said.

Illinois lawmakers could accept or override the changes, which along with the clips specifically ban the AK-47, AR-15 and TEC-9 semi-automatic weapons. Or they could just not call a vote.

The governor has had little success with other amendatory vetoes, and the legislature is so divided over gun issues that no major bills have recently moved forward.

The governor’s announcement is among the latest in a series of calls for gun-control legislation following the July 20 mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater in which 12 people were killed and 58 others wounded.

The alleged shooter used several guns, including an AR-15 that had an ammunition clip capable of holding 100 rounds.

New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg and New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, Democrats, announced federal legislation Monday to ban large-capacity clips, following Justice Antonin Scalia saying on “Fox News Sunday” that a 2008 Supreme Court majority ruling left often the possibility of future changes to guns laws.

Neither the House nor the Senate has indicated a desire to address the issue. President Obama said he supports the Second Amendment but has suggested revisiting such laws as buyer background checks, while GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said more laws are not needed.

Also last weekend, the Rev. Jesse Jackson led a rally in Chicago to call for a ban on the sale and possession of assault weapons.

The original sponsor of the Illinois bill, Republican state Sen. David Luechtefeld, has accused Quinn of using the massacre for political gain and suggested the governor should have proposed separate legislation, instead of making his controversial.

The governor “wants to be shown as against assault weapons,” Luechtefeld said. "It's a way to get his name in the paper."

Luechtefeld's measure would have allowed Illinois residents to have ammunition purchased from in-state companies shipped to them. Currently, Illinois residents can only have ammunition shipped if it's bought out of state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.