Senate Committee Advances Concealed Carry Bill
By Brian Mackey
An Illinois Senate committee has approved legislation that would pave the way for concealed-carry of firearms in Illinois, but gun-rights advocates say it is too restrictive.
Gun owners would have to apply to the Illinois State Police, who would in turn ask local law enforcement whether there was a reason someone should not be licensed. It would also ban weapons from schools, day cares, casinos, and stadiums.
All those limits prompted National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde to say it was not t a real concealed-carry bill.
"This is a bill to discourage people and prevent people from carrying a firearm and exercising their constitutional, fundamental right to keep and bear arms for self-defense in the public," Vandermyde said.
Vandermyde said permit holders would have a hard time navigating the patchwork of restrictions that the legislation would allow.
State Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Democrat from Chicago, was trying to negotiate a compromise with gun-rights supporters.
But ultimately he went his own way. His proposal would not allow guns in schools or on public transportation. It would also let Chicago police deny some individuals with concealed-carry permits from bringing weapons into the city.
Raoul said Chicago has things that make it different from the rest of Illinois - like a much higher population density.
"And so there's a lot more opportunity for conflict," Raoul said.
The difference here is the one at the heart of the gun debate: If you look at a city with a relatively high crime rate, do you say the answer lies in more guns or fewer?
Republican Sen. Dale Righter, from Mattoon, flipped Raoul's argument about Chicago's potential for conflict on its head.
"Isn't that a reason to make sure it is just as east to carry a loaded firearm in the city of Chicago?" Righter noted.
Illinois has until June 9 to meet a federal court decline to enact some form of concealed-carry.