SPRINGFIELD -- A more restrictive concealed carry gun bill, opposed by the National Rifle Association and most Republicans, was approved by an Illinois Senate committee Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a less strict bill, which overwhelmingly passed the Illinois House last week and on which the NRA was neutral, was not adopted, and remains in the committee.
Despite the seeming disparity, senators indicated that a compromise was possible before the Legislature adjourns on Friday. Beyond that, the state is under a federal court order to enact a concealed carry law by June 9 or face the possibility that Illinois wil become "constitutional carry," meaning that firearms could be carried virtually anywhere and anytime.
The bill that passed the Senate committee (SB 2193) is sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago. It could get a full Senate vote as soon as Wednesday.
The biggest difference between his bill and the House measure passed by Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, is that Raoul's bill would allow home rule communities, such as Chicago, Springfield, Champaign, Urbana and Danville, to keep in place any locally enacted gun laws.
Phelps' bill would preempt all local ordinances, including those in Chicago.
Raoul said after the committee vote that he thought a compromise was possible, at least on some issues, such as the transport of firearms in vehicles, and restrictions on the possession of firearms in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
"I haven't stopped having discussions on this since the beginning of the session, and my door's been open to everyone," Raoul said.
He already has dropped language from his bill that required concealed carry cardholders to be "of good moral character," and to "state a proper reason" for wanting a permit.
Sen. Christine Radogno of Lemont, the leader of the Senate Republican caucus, said she believed the preemption issue remains "very, very problematic" but that she thought compromise is possible.
"Where we need to start is a clean slate where there are no preemptions and then get busy working on where we need to preempt," Radogno said. "I think we're definitely moving in the right direction."