Conceal carry defeated in Illinois House

tribune logoSPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House this afternoon defeated a measure that would allow people to carry concealed guns with training and a permit.

The bill needed 71 votes to pass but got 65.

Sponsoring Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, urged colleagues to support the legislation. “We are at the criminal’s mercy,” he said.

Phelps said opponents should stop trying to “spook everybody” by suggesting that giving citizens concealed weapons would turn Illinois into the “Wild West and everybody’s going to get a gun.”

Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago, said she cannot get beyond the violent deaths of Chicago police officers.

“I, too, like the John Wayne movies,” Davis said. “I like those movies about the Wild West where everybody’s carrying a weapon and everybody’s shooting at each other. We don’t live in those days any more… America is no longer the Wild, Wild West. I urge a no vote.”

Outgoing Rep. Harry Osterman, D-Chicago, warned the legislation would lead to people bringing guns to places like Navy Pier and create tragedy.

“This will add to injury, to death,” said Osterman, who was recently elected to the city council.

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphsyboro, said the issue is about giving people an “even hand” when it comes to confrontations with criminals.

“Give the opportunity for your citizens to protect themselves,” Bost said.

Rep. Marlow Colvin, D-Chicago, said downstate lawmakers come from places that are much different from the more dangerous streets of Chicago. He feared what would happen if concealed weapons were allowed at an event like the Independence Day fireworks in Chicago, where a million people may turn out.

“Talk about powderkeg,” Colvin said. “One size does not fit all.”

Under the proposal, a person first would apply to a local sheriff. The sheriff, who has the right to object, would have 30 days to send the application to the Illinois State Police for review. Without objections, the state police would have about 45 days to sign off.

To be eligible, a person would need to be at least 21, hold a state firearms owner identification card, take an eight-hour class on the use of force and possess shooting-range qualifications.

Concealed weapons would not be allowed in schools, universities, prisons or state buildings. A person would not be allowed to carry a concealed gun into a bar or restaurant that primarily serves alcoholic beverages. That’s a partial nod to concerns expressed by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and others who fear regular bar fights would turn into gun fights if concealed carry were allowed.

Earlier this week, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn said he would veto any measure lawmakers sent him that would allow citizens to walk around with loaded guns in public. Illinois and Wisconsin are the only states without some form of such a law.

Because the bill could overrule local gun ordinances, supporters would need a three-fifths vote — not a simple majority — in both the House and Senate to sidestep a veto.

The debate comes after the House voted down a measure that would have legalized marijuana use for medical purposes.