Wisconsin is on the verge of becoming the 49th state to allow its citizens to carry concealed guns, leaving only Illinois without such a law.
"It's embarrassing. We're the last ones," said state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg. "Every other state tends to believe this is a right, not a privilege, and they have let their law-abiding citizens do it, and I don't know why we should be any different.
"We're not going to go away. We're going to keep pushing it."
But Phelps faces stiff opposition from Chicago and suburban lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn, who said last week he is proud Illinois is the last state not to allow concealed carry and that he would veto any bill allowing it.
So Phelps said he plans to talk to officials in Cook County and Chicago about a compromise, including the possibility of allowing local officials to decide whether people can carry concealed weapons.
"I don't want to leave anybody out, but you know what, we've got to start looking at things and maybe try a different approach," said Phelps, acknowledging the National Rifle Association believes any Illinois law should allow every citizen in the state who is eligible to carry a concealed gun. "A lot of their (NRA) members would support it (allowing local governments to decide). We're going to talk to them. We're going to talk to every other group, too."
Six votes short
Hoping to break the logjam, a group of downstate Republican lawmakers introduced a bill last week that would allow county boards to decide whether or not their citizens could carry concealed firearms. Phelps' bill received 65 votes in the House, a majority, but not enough of one to overcome a decision by the House Democratic leadership that the bill needed 71 votes to pass because it overrules the home rule powers of local governments.
"Forty-nine states can't be wrong, and to be the very last state is unfortunate,' said Rep. Michael Unes, R-East Peoria, a chief co-sponsor of the bill.
Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, believes his legislation, House Bill 3794, would solve that problem.
"It came up through people, constituents, calling and frustrated that you get 65 votes, which is usually a constitutional majority, and yet it didn't move on (to the Senate). So the frustration is, OK, Cook County legislators, Chicago don't want it, well, let us have it," Mitchell said.
Mitchell agrees the gun lobby won't like his bill because the same rights wouldn't apply to every Illinoisan and the possibility exists gun owners carrying concealed weapons could run afoul of another jurisdiction's law if they cross county lines with a concealed firearm.
Mitchell views his bill as a backup plan in case Phelps cannot find the votes for his bill or if the courts do not determine concealed carry is a constitutional right, which is the contention of several lawsuits filed on the subject.
"I have never been on a district tour saying another bill is better than the bill I just filed. But I did yesterday," Mitchell said. "There's problems with it. And I understand that completely."
Chicago vs. downstate
In recent years, neither side of the gun debate has been effective at getting their bills passed.
Chicago lawmakers who favor banning assault weapons or limiting gun purchases on a monthly basis have been unable to gain traction, due to lack of downstate support.
Democratic Rep. Edward Acevedo, a Chicago police officer and opponent of concealed carry, said there may be room for urban lawmakers to consider Mitchell's bill, if he and other gun-rights supporters are willing to compromise on other issues, such as placing more restrictions on assault weapons.
"It's something I might be willing to look at. I think this subject will continue to come up. If I'm willing to deal with that . . . then maybe they should hear me out as far as my ban on assault weapons," Acevedo said. "I would be willing to sit at table and negotiate a deal where you give me something and I'll give you something."
The arguments for and against concealed carry remain largely the same. Phelps argues that fears about Wild West-style shootouts have been unfounded.
"Every other state that's had concealed carry has not repealed this, has not even tried to repeal this. it's working. I know it'll work here," Phelps said, noting his legislation, House Bill 148, does not allow guns in bars and restaurants.
But Brian Malte, director of state legislation for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, points to a study by the Violence Policy Center that shows more than 300 people have been killed by those who have concealed carry permits, including 11 law enforcement officials and 18 cases of mass shootings. The Brady Campaign opposes concealed carry laws in which citizens do not have to have permits and/or law enforcement does not have discretion over who gets a permit and how many permits are issued.
"We have never seen a state government release an audit of their concealed carry system," Malte said.
"Not only do you have permittees actually committing homicide or murder, but you also have dangerous people slipping through the cracks with what appear to be valid concealed carry permits."
Illinois isn't even on my list of places to visit...thank god I don't live there!
Answer by attap5 at 7:05 PM on Jun. 29, 2011
Answer by Carpy at 6:59 PM on Jun. 29, 2011
Another reason to not live in Ill.
I concur.. For some time now, Illinois has been on our top 10 places we NEVER want to live... ;o)
Answer by grlygrlz2 at 8:47 PM on Jun. 29, 2011
Answer by itsmesteph11 at 7:46 PM on Jun. 29, 2011
Answer by NotPanicking at 9:00 PM on Jun. 29, 2011
Answer by Kitkat61277 at 10:26 PM on Jun. 29, 2011
Answer by Sisteract at 7:18 PM on Jun. 29, 2011
Answer by minnesotanice at 7:23 PM on Jun. 29, 2011
Answer by annabarred at 7:43 PM on Jun. 29, 2011
I thnk I'm moving to Illinois.
Yeah, the Chicago mob would never have any guns. They just throw canoli at each other. (The Godfather)
Answer by jesse123456 at 8:32 PM on Jun. 29, 2011
Next question overall
WHICH TYPE OF QUESTIONS DO YOU THINK GET THE MOST BUMPS?
Check out some of the top posts today in Groups: