SPRINGFIELD — Carrying a concealed weapon will remain illegal in the Land of Lincoln following another failed attempt to bring Illinois in line with gun laws in 48 other states.
In action Thursday, the latest proposal to legalize concealed weapons fell a handful of votes short of the 71 needed for passage in the Illinois House. Defeat of the measure came a day after Gov. Pat Quinn said he’d veto the measure if it landed on his desk.
State Rep. Brandon Phelps, the lead sponsor, was unsure whether he would try to push the legislation again this spring.
“Time’s running out to get it to the Senate,” the Harrisburg Democrat said. “We’ve given pretty much everything we could give.”
The measure, which traditionally pits rural downstate lawmakers against their counterparts from Cook County and Chicago, would have allowed Illinoisans age 21 or older to get concealed carry permits after completing a training course consisting of live-fire exercises and classroom instruction. It would be up to county sheriffs to issue the permits, which would cost $100.
People convicted of felony charges or some misdemeanor drug crimes would be barred from getting a permit as would anyone who has been a patient in a mental institution within the prior five years.
Opponents, however, said guns and crowded urban areas don’t mix.
“It puts a lot of innocent people in jeopardy,” said state Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago.
“It will not make our streets safer,” added state Rep. Will Burns, D-Chicago.
Supporters said the tough requirements to get a permit, as well as a prohibition on concealed weapons in a number of locations would keep people safe from violence.
Nearly all state and local governmental buildings, including courthouses, jails, schools, libraries and airports, would be barred. Colleges and universities also would be no-gun zones.
Concealed firearms also wouldn’t be allowed at bars and taverns, child care facilities, casinos, amusement parks, stadiums, indoor sports arenas and businesses that don’t want guns on the premises.
“This is a bill whose time has come,” said state Rep. David Reis, a Willow Hill Republican who co-sponsored the legislation.
Although Chicago police brass opposed the proposal, downstate police largely supported it.
“I’ve been very outspoken in support of it in my county,” said McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery.
“We believe law-abiding citizens should have a right to defend themselves,” said Franklin County Sheriff Don Jones.
Quinn, speaking to reporters at an event to honor fallen law enforcement officers, repeated his vow to veto the legislation and predicted it would fail.
“I think it will make lives more difficult for our law enforcement men and women, and I think they’ve made that pretty clear in their own positions,” Quinn said. “I happen to believe that that particular bill is one that will not in any way protect public safety. It will do the opposite.”
Downstate lawmakers said the vote was important to voters in the central and southern areas of the state, who are angered over the state’s recent tax hike and the inability of lawmakers to get a handle on the state’s budget problems.
But, said Phelps, “They know it’s an uphill fight every year to get this against Cook County and the City of Chicago.”
“I am disappointed that once again Chicago politicians have thwarted the ability of law-abiding Illinois residents to protect themselves and their families,” said state Rep. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign. “Individuals who are responsible and follow the letter of the law should be afforded their constitutional right of personal protection that concealed carry will provide.”
The legislation is House Bill 148.