SPRINGFIELD -- For the second time in a week, a House panel dominated by downstate lawmakers signaled its approval of a law allowing Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons.
The House Agriculture Committee voted 11-2 to endorse the proposed law, which is sponsored by state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg.
Chicago-area lawmakers are likely to push back if the measure comes up for debate in the full House. The committee has approved similar measures at least five times in previous years, but the concept has not advanced in the full House.
Action on the legislation came a day before gun rights advocates are scheduled to descend on the Capitol for their annual lobby day. Illinois and Wisconsin are the only states that bar nearly all residents from carrying concealed weapons.
While the committee heard testimony on a similar concealed carry measure last week, the focus of the conversation was different Tuesday because of provisions in Phelps' proposal that are absent in the other measure, which is being pushed by John Bradley, D-Marion.
One of the proposals upset retailers and manufactures. It states that if a business prohibits people from carrying guns on their establishment, they are liable for injuries in armed robberies to gun owners who were disarmed.
"If they take my right to self defense.because of their company policy, we're going to make it explicit that they going to be civilly liable for that," said Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. "There is going to be a price tag that comes along with that if I'm injured or killed."
Mark Denzler, vice president for the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, objected to the provision, stating it is bad for the business community.
"I think businesses have the right to set rules for their individual business, if they don't want a concealed carry gun on their premises," he said.
State Rep. Donald Moffitt, R-Gilson, is a strong proponent for concealed carry but agreed the liability provision was unfriendly to businesses.
"I think you're making a big mistake to potentially muddy the waters," he said.
Moffitt voted in favor of the measure, with the hopes that the provision would be taken out before it reaches the House floor.
State Rep. Julie Hamos, D- Evanston, voted against the proposal like she did last week. State Rep. Mary Flowers, D- Chicago, also voted against Phelp's bill.
The legislation is House Bill 5221.