One of the strictest gun bans in the nation may be on its way out as the Illinois House of Representatives passed a proposal to allow state residents to carry concealed guns. The 85-30 vote left little doubt as to the large support behind the bill, which is backed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago). According to the Chicago Tribune, the bill was passed late last week despite opposition from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn as well as several key Chicago legislators.
“This legislation is wrong for Illinois,” Quinn said after the vote. “We need strong gun safety laws that protect the people of our state. Instead, this measure puts public safety at risk.”
The bill came about after a federal appeals court struck down the state’s concealed carry ban last year and mandated that the Illinois lawmakers come up with a new law that was in accordance with the constitution.
“We are disinclined to engage in another round of historical analysis to determine whether eighteenth-century America understood the Second Amendment to include a right to bear guns outside the home,” the ruling stated at the time. “The Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside.”
Illinois is the only state in the nation that prohibits gun owners from carrying concealed weapons in any form outside the home. The concealed carry bill, SB 2193, will change that ban into a “shall issue” status where residents may apply for a concealed carry permit granted that they pass a background check and required certification and licenses. The Southern Illinoisian reports that while this specific bill has not yet been passed into law, Illinois law enforcement are already preparing with an estimated $175,000 earmarked towards automating the process of distributing permits. The funds will also go towards hiring new employees to process the applications once Illinois joins the nation at large on concealed carry.
The Illinois Senate is also expected to vote on the bill sometime this week. In its current state the bill exists as a compromise between gun control supporters and opponents, garnering it criticism from both sides of aisle. That said, many gun owners support the legislation as the first step to concealed carry in Illinois.
“Even among us gun rights legislators and even among the gun-control legislators, our ideals of the perfect concealed-carry legislation is not identical,” said gun rights advocate and House representative Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg). “There is not a bill that we could possibly draw up in which every single legislator on this floor would be perfectly happy with. We live in Illinois. We never thought this day would come.”
Chicago lawmakers are looking to pen new legislation that would make new concealed carry laws applicable in the city, although subject to numerous restrictions. These measures are fiercely opposed by the National Rifle Association and other local gun owners groups. The city of Chicago was launched into the recent national gun debate due to its strict gun control policies and high crime rates.
The 180 days given to the state by the federal appeals court to craft a new gun law ends on June 9.