Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Illinois could get concealed carry
Gun owners could carry concealed weapons in Illinois, the last state in the nation to prohibit it, under legislation that swept through the House Friday with the backing of the powerful Democratic speaker from Chicago, a city torn by violence despite what critics claim are the nation's toughest firearms restrictions.
The historic 85-30 vote would allow the carrying of concealed guns, a legislative task compelled by a federal appeals court ruling and precipitated by House Speaker Michael Madigan's turnabout.
But its obliteration of all local gun laws, including Chicago's ban on assault-style weapons, drew immediate resistance from Gov. Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat like Madigan. Quinn said the proposal endangers the public by pre-empting local gun laws, which have nothing to do with concealed carry, the only subject covered by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decree
The measure, sponsored by ardent gun-rights advocate Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Democrat from Harrisburg in deep southern Illinois, outlines a so-called "shall issue" law, meaning law enforcement officials would be required to issue permits to qualified gun owners. Only about 10 states, such as New York, have more restrictive "may issue" laws, which give police more discretion to deny permission.
"Criminals are cowards," said Rep. Mike Bost, a southern Illinois Republican. "If they know there's an opportunity they're going to get caught or get shot — because they don't like a fair fight — they're not going to commit the crime."
The plan would require the Illinois State Police to issue a carry permit to anyone who gets the required 16 hours of gun-safety training — most in the nation — passes a background check and pays a $150 fee. Local police or a county sheriff could object to an application, which a statewide review panel of criminal-justice and mental-health experts would review.
Despite the way the current idea mimics Phelps' earlier plan, the speaker said it significantly broadens the places that would be off-limits to guns, including all of the places Chicago officials requested, such as mass-transit buses and trains, parks and street festivals.
Local school officials would no longer be able to decide whether they wanted to allow guns. Private property owners could ban guns on their land.
If Illinois blows the June 9 deadline without a law, cities and counties could enact their own gun restrictions — or none at all, supporters say, creating "more chaos and havoc on our streets," Republican Rep. Jim Durkin of Western Springs said.
Posted by Zee at 6:41 AM