May 24, 2013 (SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) (WLS) — The federal court has ordered the state to pass a concealed carry law by June 9. Friday, the Illinois House approved a concealed carry bill.
But, this gun bill still faces a lot of opposition, because it would cancel out local guns laws.
There’s been very little common ground over the years on concealed carry. But lawmakers in the Illinois House found enough of it Friday afternoon to pass a concealed carry bill by a wide margin. In response, the Illinois Senate president and the governor are holding their noses, which means that the final common ground has yet to be found — with the clock ticking.
“The day is now. The time is now,” said John Bradley, a Democratic state congressman representing Marion, Illinois. “Concealed carry is coming to Illinois.”
Its supporters say the concealed carry bill is imperfect but reasonable. It requires a criminal background check, state police sign off, and 16 hours of training in the classroom and the range.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I will tell you, if this bill passes you’ll need double the amount of police officers,” said Eddie Acevedo, a Democrat representing Chicago. “You’re gonna have blood on your hands from a lot of people who are gonna be killed.”
Here’s the critical issue in the debate: Chicago and other communities with home rule powers want the right to set up their own concealed carry restrictions, but in Illinois that could mean over 200 different versions of a law the court says the state must enact.
“I just think we’re making the law-abiding gun owner a criminal, because he or she is not gonna know from one town to the other what’s expected of them,” said Brandon Phelps, a Democratic representative from Harrisburg, Illinois.
Even though the bill would strip local firearm laws, it passed 85-30, in part because House Speaker Michael Madigan reversed his long-held opposition, calling it a product of changed thinking.
“In a democracy, it’s not only OK to do that, it’s expected,” Madigan said.
But what’s expected in the Illinois Senate is a different take. The version it’s considering would give communities and police more say so over the law and who gets approval to carry.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said Friday the House bill is dead on arrival.
“I’m strongly against the House will. I think we’ll win on that,” said Quinn. “We’ll defeat it and we’ll get a better proposal within the coming week.”
That may be, according to some lawmakers, way too optimistic. Several told ABC7 Friday they doubt common ground will be located because the gap between House and Senate versions of concealed are vast.
They have until June 9 to find a solution. If not, the state’s existing ban on concealed carry ends, though Chicago and Cook County are standing by with their own versions.