Concealed-carry moves closer to passage in state House

SPRINGFIELD — State representatives Tuesday approved a number of amendments to a concealed-carry law (HB 1155) that would allow Illinoisans to carry weapons in public, although they would have to meet certain requirements and many locations would be off-limits.

The bill remains on second reading on the House floor. More amendments could be considered.

The historic 67-48 vote came after more than nine hours of debate on legislation that became a necessity after a federal appeals court ordered Illinois to pass a concealed-carry law by early June.

All area representatives voted for the bill except Rep.Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana.

Illinois is the only state that currently does not allow some form of concealed-carry. Past attempts to approve a concealed-carry law in Illinois were defeated mainly by Chicago area Democrats.

Under the legislation, Illinois would be a “shall-issue” state, meaning that larger numbers of citizens would be able to acquire permits. Permit holders also would have to go through eight hours of training including live fire training, and would have to undergo a criminal history background check. They would have to pay an $80 fee for a 5-year permit.

As written, there would be no limitation on the number of weapons a permit-holder could carry, said Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, whose amendment became, in large part, the final bill. Still, he said the bill “is more restrictive than we ever wanted it to be.”

Weapons could not be carried in schools and child care facilities, libraries, local government buildings, stadiums, places of worship, casinos and on mass transit.

Phelps’ amendment also would allow colleges and universities to prohibit the carrying of a firearm on campus.

An earlier amendment giving college and universities the power to regulate weapons on their campuses — a measure sponsored by state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana — was the first one to be rejected Tuesday. It failed by a 50-56 margin, with five lawmakers voting present.

Another Jakobsson amendment, restricting firearms in hospitals and in mental health facilities, was approved by the House.

That amendment was approved 64-45, but her amendment addressing guns on university and college campuses was a different story.

Members of her own party attacked it for being confusing and for allegedly violating an agreement between Phelps and representatives of colleges and universities.

Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago, said allowing each institution to write its own regulations would be confusing to gun owners.

“I think it’s expecting too much for someone to have to look up each location in Illinois and see if it’s safe to carry a gun there,” said Davis.

Phelps asked Jakobsson to pull the amendment from the record because the language was different from what had been agreed to and included in his legislation.

“We had a deal,” said Phelps. “A deal is a deal, especially in the General Assembly.”

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