Illinois House moves on concealed carry measures
11 hours ago • BY KURT ERICKSON and LAURA HLAVACH, JG-TC Springfield Bureau
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House took the first steps Tuesday toward complying with a federal court order to make it legal for citizens to carry concealed weapons.
On a 67-48 vote, lawmakers endorsed an amendment that would allow trained and permitted Illinoisans to get the ability to move about in public with a loaded gun.
Approval of the measure came after nearly nine hours of public and private debate among the 118-member chamber, including more than a dozen votes on more restrictive proposals that opponents said would severely limit the ability of where Illinoisans could carry loaded firearms.
The amendment, sponsored by state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, still faces a potentially tough road in the House before it moves to the Senate for further debate. It also must meet Gov. Pat Quinn’s approval.
Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, has repeatedly linked a concealed weapons law with his push to ban military-style assault weapons, raising questions over whether a deal can be struck
“We’ve been meeting with lawmakers and stakeholders on these key public safety issues for weeks and will continue negotiations throughout session,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said.
Phelps acknowledged Tuesday the legislation is not a finished product.
“This is the beginning of the negotiations,” Phelps said.Under the legislation, licensees would be barred from carrying weapons into nearly all government buildings, including schools and universities, as well as prisons mental hospitals and amusement parks. Bars, taverns, sports stadiums and casinos also would be listed as no-gun zones.
Business owners also would get to choose whether to allow concealed weapons on their premises.
“This bill is actually more restrictive than we ever wanted it to be,” said Phelps, who has led negotiations on a concealed carry law for years.
In order to get a permit, licensees would have to undergo eight hours of classroom training, additional training with an actual firearm and background checks. The fee for a permit would be $80, which Phelps said would be enough to finance the program.
There is no language regarding how many weapons a person would be able to carry.
“We didn’t put any limitations in this bill,” Phelps said.
The action came as part of the full House’s first foray of 2013 into the geographically divisive issue of gun control.
In the past, the issue has split Democrats and Republicans representing districts outside of Cook County who favor expanding gun rights from their Chicago-area counterparts who say concealed carry is not compatible in their crowded urban districts.
In December, however, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state’s ban was unconstitutional and gave the General Assembly and Quinn until early June to hammer out a solution.
Facing a ticking clock and overseeing a Democratic caucus with varying views on the matter, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, employed a seldom-used parliamentary procedure in which members of the House were able to file amendments that could later become part of a final piece of legislation.
Before giving the green light to Phelps’ plan, a number of measures pushed by Chicago Democrats drew emotional opposition from Republicans and downstate Democrats, who said the process designed by Democratic leaders to debate the issue was flawed.
“We’ve got to make sure this is a bill that is workable,” said state Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, called the questioning by GOP lawmakers “persnickety nitpicking.”
Republicans expressed concern that if they voted “no” on amendments like banning guns near schools or daycare centers it would be used against them at election time – even if a final piece of legislation included similar restrictions.
“This is a political stunt,” said state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst.
“People are watching this. People know Chicago is the murder capital of the world. You have tons of government regulations and yet you have over 500 homicides,” said state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth. “You might have the majority, but you sure as hell can’t lead.”
In all, 29 amendments were put on the table, ranging from banning concealed weapons at zoos to forcing permit-holders to carry $1 million in liability insurance.
The legislation is House Bill 1155.http://jg-tc.com/news/illinois-house-moves-on-concealed-carry-measures/article_5bfcdbfe-8095-11e2-8872-001a4bcf887a.html?comment_form=true