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Illinois governor calls for bringing back the death penalty for cop killers, mass murderers

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner submitted a proposal to reinstate the death penalty for those convicted of murdering police officers and those who commit mass murders. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) called for a return of the death penalty for mass murderers and those who kill police officers, adding the proposal to a gun control bill that reached his desk, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Rauner added his proposals, which include a ban on the sale of bump stocks and trigger cranks, to a bill that would establish a 72-hour waiting period for all gun purchases. It will now return to the General Assembly for a new vote.

"It is a comprehensive package, it is a thoughtful package, it is good policy," Rauner said. "Each piece is critically important."

Is there more about the bill?

The Illinois Legislature passed a bill to create a 72-hour waiting period for all gun purchases; currently the waiting period for handguns is 72 hours, but only 24 hours for assault weapons and other guns.

Rauner supports that measure, but instead of simply signing the bill he decided to rewrite it to include a special provision for the death penalty.

Rauner's proposal would add a new category of homicide — "death penalty murder" — for adults who kill police officers or who kill multiple people. Conviction under this category would require an elevated standard of "beyond all doubt," which goes above the normal reasonable doubt standard.

The governor also wants to ban bump stocks as a part of continued post-Parkland, Florida, gun control efforts.

The General Assembly, which is led by Democrats, can either override his amendments (causing the original bill to become law) or accept his changes.

What's the reaction to the bill?

Rauner's death penalty proposal has support of state law enforcement and some conservatives.

"I think if you kill a police officer, I think, and you're found guilty, I think that's absolutely an appropriate remedy for something like that," Anthony Riccio, Chicago Police first deputy superintendent, told the Chicago Tribune.

Democrats accused Rauner, who faces a re-election challenge, of using the death penalty as a political weapon.

"Why is he doing it out of the blue?" asked Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker. "It's because it's all politics to him. It isn't about policy. He's trading policy to do politics in the election."

Illinois suspended its death penalty in 2000 after a series of exonerations of death row inmates cast doubt on whether the justice system could be trusted. It was fully abolished in 2011.

(H/T: The Hill)

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