SPRINGFIELD — A concealed-carry bill that would bar local communities from passing their own gun laws easily cleared the Illinois House on Friday — but is up against significant opposition from Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Gov. Pat Quinn.
The concealed-carry bill, which would make Illinois the last state to adopt such legislation and would put the state into compliance with a federal court order, was approved 85-30.
But Cullerton said the measure goes too far by preventing local communities from adopting their own ordinances.
"The part that's offensive in the bill is the part that has nothing to do with concealed carry," he said. "It's an overreach by the NRA to wipe out all other gun regulations that a number of other jurisdictions have."
And Quinn called the measure "wrong for the future of public safety in our state," and said it "would repeal critical gun safety ordinances in Chicago, Cook County and across Illinois."
House Speaker Michael Madigan predicted, however, that it would easily clear the Senate with enough votes to overcome any potential gubernatorial veto.
"I think if the bill is called in the Senate, I think we'll get a vote in the Senate comparable to the vote it got today, which was an overwhelming supermajority vote," Madigan said.
Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, agreed with Madigan.
"I would think you could get to 37 (votes), yeah," he said.
Cullerton, however, said he "would try to defeat the bill" in the Senate and pledged to try to persuade his 40-member Democratic caucus to oppose it.
"Maybe our caucus doesn't want to go forward with it. Maybe we'll have a caucus and we'll see that there's no support, and we'll go ahead with an alternative," Cullerton said. "Maybe we can focus our attention on concealed carry, which is what the court tasked us with doing."
Cullerton said he hoped to amend a concealed-carry bill sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, and pass it through the Senate.
"Senator Raoul would be prepared to amend his bill, to pattern it after the conceal-and-carry portion of the bill that passed out of the House today, with some minor changes," Cullerton said.
All area representatives voted for the concealed-carry bill (SB 2193) Friday, including Urbana Democrat Naomi Jakobsson. She acknowledged she was a longtime concealed-carry opponent but said that the bill's sponsor, Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, had included an amendment she had requested that would keep guns out of hospitals. Further, she said that without a concealed-carry bill, Illinois could become a constitutional carry state — essentially no regulation — in June.
Others voting for the measure included Republicans Dan Brady of Bloomington, Adam Brown of Champaign, Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville, Josh Harms of Watseka, Chad Hays of Catlin and Bill Mitchell of Decatur.
In brief, it is a shall-issue bill, meaning the Illinois State Police would have to issue a concealed-carry permit unless law enforcement authorities objected. Those denied permits could appeal to a new review board. The current FOID card would be eliminated, replaced with a five-year, $150 concealed-carry card. Sixteen hours of training, including range exercises, would be required in order to qualify for a card.
Firearms would be prohibited in numerous locations, and businesses and private property owners could prohibit guns on their property by posting a 4-inch by 6-inch sign, of a design approved by the state police.
The bill was debated for about 2 hours Friday, after which the House adjourned. Representatives are scheduled to return to Springfield late Sunday afternoon.
Madigan acknowledged in debate that he switched sides from a concealed-carry opponent to a supporter, claiming he was swayed by colleagues who in test votes earlier this spring showed support for the idea.
"Those vote counts are very telling," he said. "They tell the reason why I stand before you today, changing a position which I have advocated for well over 20 years. But that's what happens in a democracy where there's free and open debate and people are called upon to cast votes in legislative bodies.
"Over time the people that send them to these legislative bodies change their thinking. And in a democracy it's not only OK to do that, it's expected that there be changes in thinking by people and legislators consistent with how the people in the country feel."
He wasn't the only Chicago Democrat to vote for the measure.
Rep. Monique Davis admitted she had "great concerns and reservations" about parts of the bill, but said if nothing was done the state would be "a patchwork" of gun laws passed by various communities.
Rep. Katherine Cloonen, D-Kankakee, said such a patchwork "would make it difficult for law-abiding citizens to travel across the state, not knowing what each community has. We may make criminals out of law-abiding citizens."
But Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago, told of how her brother had been accidentally shot to death by his employer.
"My experience is that people who carry guns will use them at one point or another. Me and my family were victims then and are victims now," she said.
Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, argued that the legislation is unequal in its exemptions.
"It actually gives certain places in our state local control, like the Cook County forest preserve is exempted from this bill," he said. "But other forest preserves from the state are not."