Chicago Tribune –
SPRINGFIELD — State lawmakers today approved compromise legislation to set up rules on who can carry concealed guns and where they can be carried.
Illinois is the last state in the nation not to have some form of concealed carry on the books, but a federal appeals court overturned the state’s long standing ban in December and gave lawmakers until June 9 to come up with regulations to allow it.
“Don’t let your constituents go off the cliff, this is a historic day for law abiding gun owners in this state,” said sponsoring Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg.
Under the proposal, concealed weapons would be banned from numerous sites, such as CTA and Metra buses and trains, casinos, government buildings and stadiums. But lawmakers said the bill would allow people to carry concealed weapons in restaurants where alcohol is served but more than half of the sales are for food.
A five-year concealed weapons permit would be issued to applicants. Law enforcement could object, and an applicant could appeal to a seven-member board designed to have people with such credentials as former judges orFBI agents. A person would have to complete 16 hours of training before getting a gun.
A series of provisions were designed to prevent people with mental health problems from getting guns. “We don’t want to mentally ill people to have firearms, period,” said Phelps, the House’s main gun rights supporter and a major negotiator.
Attempts were made to allow gun owners to carry through different communities without getting hung up on a patchwork of local laws.
Chicago’s ban on assault weapons would be kept intact, but towns that don’t already have a ban would be prevented from adopting them.
The Senate quickly passed the bill 45-12-1. The House vote was 89-28.
The bill needed three-fifths votes in both chambers because it would affect home-rule cities like Chicago.
“We worked really hard on this bill to come up with something that we think everybody can live with, but probably everybody won’t be happy with,” said sponsoring Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton. “But it’s something we need to do.”
“We’re not there yet on this bill, not even close,” said Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, who said the 16-hours of training required in the bill was not enough.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s spokeswoman offered the administration’s standard response when asked about the bill, saying Quinn would review it when it reaches his desk.
Democrats and Republicans got up to speak in favor in the Senate.