SOUTH HOLLAND | Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn used graduation ceremonies Sunday at South Suburban College to urge support for a proposal that would ban the sale or delivery of ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds at a time.
Such a bill was introduced in the Illinois General Assembly last week by state Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Evanston, and Quinn said it will be the focus of political activity this week in Springfield.
To that end, Quinn is working with some of the parents of about two dozen children who were killed in December in a shooting incident Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The governor met with those parents Sunday morning, then mentioned them prominently while providing the keynote address during afternoon commencement ceremonies for this year's roughly 220 graduates of the community college.
He said the education the students received was similar to the “education received by those parents” as to the realities of firearms and public violence.
“What those parents told me they learned is that maybe if we had limits (about the size of ammunition magazines), maybe some of our children would be alive today,” Quinn said.
He said he plans to have parents Nicole Hockley, Mark Barden and Francine Wheeler meet with legislators at the Statehouse in Springfield on Monday to urge passage of the bill in question. At a Sunday morning news conference at the Thompson Center in Chicago, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said he supports the measure.
The governor also said the incident in Newtown, along with another prominent shooting incident in July 2012 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., are significant because of the number of young people who were killed — people, he said, who might have had potential to do great things for society if they had lived a full life.
“We don’t have a person to waste in our democracy,” Quinn said.
Quinn, whose list of jobs held throughout his life includes a one-year stint as an instructor at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, said he particularly admires community college students who often have to balance their class loads with the realities of life.
“The key to a strong democracy is learning and continuing our education,” Quinn said.
Sunday’s commencement speech was Quinn’s second appearance in recent months at South Suburban College. In February, he announced that $41.6 million in state funding will be provided to help with construction of new facilities for programs to train health care professionals.
Quinn said Sunday that such an expenditure shows state government’s commitment to the south suburbs.
“We’re going to make sure all of the south suburbs are a proud, resourceful and important focus,” he said.
South Suburban College board Chairman Frank Zuccarelli said such a commitment is why he considers Quinn to be an asset to the community college, and why the school on Sunday presented Quinn with an honorary degree following his commencement speech.
“He doesn’t always say ‘yes,’ but he gives it to us straight,” Zuccarelli said of Quinn. “That is why he will have our support in the future.”