Gov. Pat Quinn's prediction of a "showdown" over concealed carry legislation turned into a lopsided defeat.
The General Assembly's decision Tuesday to override Gov. Pat Quinn's amendatory veto of concealed carry legislation was not about whether Illinois will become the nation's last state to adopt such legislation.
Concealed carry was going to be the law today, either by legislative or judicial action. The vote was about whether there would be concealed carry with rules or without rules.
Legislators did the only sensible thing they could, supporting the override by a 71-36 margin in the House and 41-17 in the Senate. If legislators wish to address Quinn's amendatory changes on the merits, they are free to do so with new legislation that can be debated in an atmosphere free of deadline pressure.
Local House members Naomi Jakobsson, Adam Brown and Chad Hays supported the override. Local senators Chapin Rose and Michael Frerichs also voted for the override.
Some people may be unaware of what the real issue was. But this question was effectively settled in December 2011, when a federal appeals court in Chicago struck down as unconstitutional a state law forbidding the carrying of concealed weapons. By a 2-1 vote, the court ruled that Illinois' outright ban was a violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The court first gave the General Assembly until June 9, and then granted a 30-day extension until Tuesday (July 9), to pass a law establishing the rules by which citizens would be permitted to carry a concealed weapon. Legislators had a choice between chaos and clarity.
What's next? We'll go out on a limb and predict that concealed carry in Illinois will be the same non-event here that it has been in the other 49 states. Concealed carry opponents have been apocalyptic in their predictions of the future, suggesting that hare-brained gun enthusiasts will turn Illinois into the Wild West.
They are wrong. Chicago, which had the toughest guns laws in the country, is the Wild West. Another mind-boggling round of shootings there last week confirms that obvious and ugly reality.
It will take some time for this new law to be fully implemented. The process to create the rules will take 180 days. Licensees must pay a $150 fee, which will last five years, and undergo 16 hours of training. The fear that otherwise law-abiding citizens will take a divergent course once they choose to exercise this new right is simply misplaced.
Citizens are quite right, of course, to fear gun violence. But everyone would do well to remember the testimony of Chicago Police Chief Garry F. McCarthy when he appeared before a legislative committee in Springfield. McCarthy told legislators he was not at all concerned about law-abiding citizens who are properly licensed and trained to carry a gun. He said he was deeply concerned about armed criminals who ignore the law and do as they please.
McCarthy has no problem differentiating those two groups, and no one else should either.