Even as legislators last week gave their final approval to Illinois' last-in-the-nation concealed carry law, there were plenty of indications that the law they passed will be subject to revisions.
And the changes probably will be less to the liking of gun owners.
On the same day they overrode Gov. Pat Quinn's amendatory veto of their concealed carry law, senators passed a bill, later rejected by the House, that would have incorporated three of the nine suggested revisions made by Quinn. They were relatively minor, such as a provision that said that anyone carrying a concealed weapon would have to admit it to police.
The three revisions could be reconsidered at any time, along with a number of other changes. One change Quinn was especially insistent on was an outright prohibition on guns in restaurants that serve alcohol. The concealed carry bill approved by the Legislature bans weapons in businesses where alcohol is more than 50 percent of the sales.
"It's just plain common sense that establishments that have liquor licenses should not have guns at anytime on their premises. The people of Illinois understand this and it's important for our General Assembly to get that message," Quinn said.
The governor is right on that point, according to a poll taken for the web site Capitol Fax. The automated poll of 1,217 registered voters, taken Wednesday, found that nearly 70 percent of those responding said they don't believe people should be able to carry loaded, concealed weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol. Even Downstate, where support for concealed carry is strongest, more than 55 percent were opposed to concealed carry in restaurants that serve alcohol; 38 percent supported the idea. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent.
The fascinating thing here is the apparent disconnect on this particular issue between Illinoisans and the rest of the country. According to the web site OpenCarry.Org, all but five states allow gun owners to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol.
In Wisconsin — the last state before Illinois to approve concealed carry — there is no concealed carry in taverns (unless a cardholder is not consuming alcohol). But there is no prohibition against carrying in a restaurant that serves alcohol, unless the owner of the business posts a sign saying so.
Meanwhile, Quinn also noted that the bill approved — which will go into effect around Jan. 1 — will "allow individuals to carry not one but more than one loaded weapon on their person along with high-capacity ammunition magazines. This is just plain wrong."
Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, said there were individual items in Quinn's veto message that she could have supported, including the prohibition on firearms anywhere alcohol is served.
"I could probably support the magazine limit. I would have supported that," she said. "And I know we talked about the alcohol limit. It's not something I was part of the debate on, but I probably would have said that we should keep guns out of establishments with alcohol."
Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, voted for the so-called "trailer bill" that included the three minor revisions, but he said he doesn't think there will be any immediate effort to weaken the concealed carry bill.
"I know there are people who would like to, but I also know there is some reluctance on some people in the House to consider any changes anytime soon. They feel that both sides sat down and both sides gave, and that it's not appropriate to come back so soon and change the terms of the agreement," he said.
But Senate President John Cullerton said a restriction on carrying more than one weapon "is probably something that we can convince some folks to perhaps consider changing. We'll be back here in January and see how this plays out."
And it wasn't just Democrats who indicated that revisions to the concealed carry law are coming. Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont acknowledged, "I don't think this is the last time that we're going to be discussing this issue."
National Democrats behind Callis
U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, left no doubt last week that the DCCC is taking sides in the 13th District race between George Gollin, a University of Illinois professor, and Ann Callis of Edwardsville.
"We're very excited by Ann Callis, who was a judge. You know that when you're a judge you can't be about ideology. You have to be about fairness," said Israel. "She's one of our top tier candidates around the country because she is a quintessential problem solver."
Asked if that meant the DCCC would back Callis over Gollin in the Democratic primary, he said, "We have talked to Ann and she has talked to us and based on our conversations and her early interest, we decided to support her as one of our top tier candidates. That's a long-winded way of saying yes, we're supporting here."
Whoever wins the race will face either U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville or Urbana attorney Erika Harold, who is challenging Davis.
Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.