Illinois legislature passes concealed carry bill, awaits Quinn's signature

May 31, 2013

Flickr/Jeremy Wilburn
File: Illinois Capitol building.
Illinois is one step closer to allowing its residents to carry concealed weapons, even though several state lawmakers who voted in favor of the proposal actually oppose the idea of concealed carry. 
 
The State Senate approved a new concealed carry plan Friday by a vote of 45-12. The House approved it 89-28. It still needs the governor's approval.
 
A December ruling from a federal court in Chicago ruled that Illinois’ ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional. It is the only state in the country to not allow its residents to carry a concealed gun.

The court ruling prompted months of debate over where guns should or should not be allowed, pitting representatives from Chicago against those from rural parts of the state. A bill approved by the senate on Friday would ban concealed guns in schools, large arenas and buses and trains.

It also would allow certain cities and counties around Illinois to keep their own gun regulations. Chicago, for instance, bans so-called assault weapons and shops that sell guns to civilians. A rival concealed carry bill had sought to wipe individual cities’ gun laws off the books, in favor of statewide regulations on guns. It passed the House of Representatives last week, but failed in a Senate committee earlier this week.

“Understand what you’re doing if you vote against this bill. Be very clear what you’re doing. You’re endorsing the risk of guns in schools being legal in non-home rule communities,” said Republican State Sen. Matt Murphy. Several lawmakers thought that if no gun regulation was approved by a court-mandated June 9th deadline, then anybody could carry any gun anywhere.

“I am not happy with the end result,” said State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, who helped negotiate the bill. “But my journey and my assignment was not to achieve my own personal happiness. My assignment was to negotiate a bill.”

Those involved in negotiations had worried about various gun regulations around the state, pitting one city’s gun regulations against the next. The bill approved by senators allows residents to transport their guns through the state, so long as it’s packed appropriately.

The debate over concealed carry has pitted the National Rifle Association against the City of Chicago. Both are neutral on the bill.

Meantime, some Illinois lawmakers have also tried to ban ammunition magazines from holding more than 10 rounds across the entire state. Parents of children killed in December’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., recently went to Springfield to testify in favor of the legislation. The measure failed in the Senate on Friday.

Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.