Illinois lawmakers approve concealed carry gun bill
Chicago Tribune: State lawmakers today approved compromise legislation to set up rules on who can carry concealed guns and where they can be carried.
Illinois is the last state in the nation not to have some form of concealed carry on the books, but a federal appeals court overturned the state’s long standing ban in December and gave lawmakers until June 9 to come up with regulations to allow it.
“Don’t let your constituents go off the cliff, this is a historic day for law abiding gun owners in this state,” said sponsoring Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg.
Under the proposal, concealed weapons would be banned from numerous sites, such as CTA and Metra buses and trains, casinos, government buildings and stadiums. But lawmakers said the bill would allow people to carry concealed weapons in restaurants where alcohol is served but more than half of the sales are for food.
A five-year concealed weapons permit would be issued to applicants. Law enforcement could object, and an applicant could appeal to a seven-member board designed to have people with such credentials as former judges or FBI agents. A person would have to complete 16 hours of training before getting a gun.
A series of provisions were designed to prevent people with mental health problems from getting guns. “We don’t want to mentally ill people to have firearms, period,” said Phelps, the House’s main gun rights supporter and a major negotiator.
Attempts were made to allow gun owners to carry through different communities without getting hung up on a patchwork of local laws. Chicago’s ban on assault weapons would be kept intact, but towns that don’t already have a ban would be prevented from adopting them.
The Senate quickly passed the bill 45-12-1. The House vote was 89-28. The bill needed three-fifths votes in both chambers because it would affect home-rule cities like Chicago.
“We worked really hard on this bill to come up with something that we think everybody can live with, but probably everybody won’t be happy with,” said sponsoring Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton. “But it’s something we need to do.”
“We’re not there yet on this bill, not even close,” said Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, who said the 16-hours of training required in the bill was not enough.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s spokeswoman offered the administration’s standard response when asked about the bill, saying Quinn would review it when it reaches his desk.
Democrats and Republicans got up to speak in favor in the Senate. “This bill is for the common good of all citizens, those who live in our dense cities, those who live in our rural areas, it’s time to put this issue to rest,” said Sen. William Haine, D-Alton.
“We all know but for the Constitution and the federal court, we might not be here today,” said Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington. “I think what’s most important is like 49 other states in the nation, the citizens of Illinois will enjoy a right and will become comfortable with because we crafted a good law, at least as a start.”
State lawmakers have wrestled over how to bridge the state’s regional and philosophical divide between gun rights advocates and gun control proponents. In the latest version, both sides budget, and lawmakers indicated the city of Chicago and the National Rifle Association both registeried as neutral. But Chicago’s anti-gun lawmakers still contended the bill was not strong enough even as other lawmakers wanted fewer restrictions.
“We got a bill everybody can live with,” said Forby, the sponsor from Downstate Benton who has long fought for gun rights. “Everybody agreed nobody liked” the bill, Forby said, “But it was something we had to do by July 9. … Nobody wanted to go over the cliff.”
Attempts were made to allow gun owners to carry through different communities without getting hung up on a patchwork of local laws.
But Forby got peppered by lawmakers who worried that the legislation opened up the potential to allowing a person with a firearm owners identification card to have as many as 100 guns in his car trunk without violating laws. Forby said he saw nothing illegal, prompting some lawmakers to shake their heads in disappointment.
Democratic Sen. Tony Munoz, a Chicago policeman, also questioned why the legislation would allow people to carry concealed weapons in places where more than half of the sales are for food.
Forby said a restaurant or bar owner also can put up a sign that says no guns are allowed, but Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, said the option is “ludicrous” because it would be hard to know who was complying with the sign unless there were a metal detector at the door. Forby parried that somebody always will break the law “no matter what you do.”
Democratic Sen. Kim Lightford of Maywood contended the bill fails to give “enough protections in violent situations.”
The elements of the bill came together in a meeting Thursday with Speaker Michael Madigan, who had pushed through a separate proposal.
I’d say being able to conceal carry would help protect a lot of people that end up in violent situations – hopefully in their defense!