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General Assembly continues its gun fight on deadline

Has until June 9 to approve law allowing concealed carry

SPRINGFIELD — The less-restrictive House-backed plan to bring concealed carry to Illinois was shot down by the Senate in favor of a more-restrictive bill that passed a Senate committee Tuesday.

The House plan, which passed 85-30 on Friday, would have overridden all local firearm laws enacted by municipalities, such as Chicago’s ban on assault weapons, in favor of a single, statewide ordinance.
That plan was backed by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and the National Rifle Association, as well as local representatives Pam Roth (R-Morris) and Kate Cloonen (D-Kankakee), but was strongly opposed by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), Gov. Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The Senate proposal, which was proposed by Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), would prohibit municipalities from enacting their own concealed carry ordinances, but would allow them to enact other gun ordinances.

Raoul’s plan passed the Senate Executive Committee 10-6 Tuesday afternoon, sending the measure to the floor, where senators on both sides of the aisle have indicated they are looking for a compromise.

The Executive Committee defeated the House proposal with six for and eight against.

In a statement Tuesday, Gov. Quinn applauded the committee’s passage of the Raoul-backed plan, vowing to support the measure.

“This bill would place reasonable limits and restrictions on guns in Illinois, while protecting the important principle of home rule,” Quinn said. “We must ensure that Illinois municipalities can continue to take additional steps to ensure public safety for their residents.”

Rep. Roth, in a Friday statement that called the House proposal a step in the right direction, expressed opposition to the Senate plan.

“The proposal being pushed in the Senate would effectively maintain the conceal carry ban for all but a few select individuals,” Roth said in the statement.

“[The House plan] is a far better bill than the legislation from the Senate.”

Roth framed her “yes” vote Friday as one of choosing between what she saw as two imperfect bills — one that would make Illinois a “shall issue” state and a “much, much more restrictive proposal from the Senate” that would make Illinois a “may issue” state.

Under the plan passed by the House, a person would need a Firearm Owner Identification Card to apply for a five-year concealed carry permit, which would cost $150.

The majority, $120, of that would go to the Illinois State Police, which would issue the permits; $20 would go to a special fund to improve reporting of mental health records; and $10 would go to the State Crime Lab.

Local law enforcement could object to any application based on a person’s arrest record or a belief the person could pose a problem to themselves or others.

That objection would be submitted to a newly created seven-person licensing review board consisting of a federal judge, two attorneys, three FBI agents and a mental health expert that would be appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate.

An applicant would be able to appeal a board decision.

Guns would be banned at some public locations, such as sporting events, colleges and on public transportation.

Rep. Cloonen called the bill a “strong step forward” in a statement following its pproval in the House.

Some critics of the bill in the House said it failed to account for the “diversity” of the state’s gun culture.

Sen. Raoul said he supported parts of the plan, but believed its effective dissolution of all local gun ordinances to be too “far reaching.”

In addition to allowing municipalities to continue enacting some gun legislation, Raoul’s plan would also prohibit guns from being taken into bars and restaurants that sell alcohol.

Currently, Illinois does not issue concealed carry permits or recognize such licenses issued by other states.

Ilinois is the only state to not allow some form of concealed carry.

In December, a federal appeals court determined the restriction was unconstitutional and gave the state 180 days to change its laws.

That means lawmakers — divided by party and region — have until June 9 to come to an agreement.

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