Illinois Enacts Nation’s Final Concealed-Gun Law
By Sean Powers and Brian Mackey, with additional reporting from The Associated Press
Illinois has become the last state in the U.S. to legalize carrying concealed loaded firearms.
Gov. Pat Quinn had used his veto power to suggest making the concealed carry legislation more restrictive. But most of the ideas he put forth had already been debated -- and rejected -- by lawmakers during months of negotiations earlier this year.
on Tuesday, the state Senate voted 41-17 to override Gov. Quinn's veto. The House took the same action earlier in the day, voting 77-31.
“Today’s action by members of the General Assembly was extremely disappointing," said Quinn in a statement. "Following a weekend of horrific violence in Chicago in which at least 70 people were shot and 12 killed, this was the wrong move for public safety in Illinois."
All lawmakers from east central Illinois backed the override.
“Governor Quinn attempted to derail months of hard work, give and take, and compromise with his amendatory veto,” said Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) in a statement. “The General Assembly made a very wise move in quickly voting to override this veto and make Right-to-Carry the law of the land in Illinois.”
Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) favored a more restrictive carry bill, but he pointed out that because the General Assembly was meeting on the very day of a federal-court deadline to pass concealed carry, lawmakers could not afford to delay.
"If the members of this chamber have the interest of public safety at their heart, they would vote 'yes' to override," Raoul said. "Because if we do not override, there are no restrictions."
In the weeks leading up to Tuesday's decision on concealed carry, some communities decided to enact their own gun laws until the state finalized its policy.
Piatt County took that route. State’s Attorney Dana Rhoades said having a concealed carry law in Illinois is in the best interest of the state.
“You know, I think having one uniformed law is in the best interest of citizens of our state, and other citizens that are coming in and visiting," Rhoades said. "They need to know what they can expect from one town to the next and the same from one county to the next.”
Rhoades said Piatt County has not had any problems with guns. But Macon County, which also enacted its own concealed carry law, has dealt with its share of violence.
The Illinois State Police must be ready to accept concealed carry permit applications in six months. Officials expect 300,000 to apply in the first year.
The Champaign County gun rights group, Guns Save Life, said its glad Illinois finally allows the concealed carry of loaded guns. But group president John Boch said the policy is not perfect.
He said compared to other states, Illinois’ concealed carry law is "too restrictive."
“The training requirement of 16 hours; Indiana for instance has no training requirement," Boch said. "The fees our very expensive, making it difficult for families with limited income to be able to afford to right to protect themselves. The prohibited locations are extended. The penalties for violating the prohibited locations are onerous.”
Boch said he hopes his concerns with the concealed carry law can be ironed out with future legislation.
Quinn's proposed sweeping changes last week to the concleaed carry bill included banning guns from establishments that serve alcohol, and a limit of one loaded firearm being held at a time.
Democratic Senate President John Cullerton said those recommendations might be addressed later.
Gov. Quinn did not get what he wanted with the General Assembly's decision to override his amendatory veto.
In defiance of lawmakers, the governor tried to garner support for his changes by appealing to people impacted by gun violence, who stood beside him last week at a Chicago press conference.
Critics have said it was all a political stunt to drum up support in next year’s Democratic primary. Quinn could face off against Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the daughter of House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Brian Gaines is with the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs, and he said Quinn’s willingness to stand up to the legislature could either help him or backfire.
“Everything is a little bit harder to predict if the opponent is Lisa Madigan," Gaines said. "The argument that he doesn’t work well with the legislature just isn’t probably the one she wants to make a lot because she is going to be fending off concern that if she were elected governor, it would just be a matter of having her father call the shots.”
Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley has also indicated that he will run in the Democratic Primary for governor.
Madigan has raised more campaign money than Quinn or Daley, but she has not said whether she will use the nearly $5 million to run for governor or seek re-election as attorney general.