Illinois joins rest of states in permitting concealed guns

Lawmakers override governor's stricter stipulations

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois became the last state in the nation to allow public possession of concealed guns, as lawmakers rushed Tuesday to finalize a proposal ahead of a federal court's deadline.

Both General Assembly chambers voted to override changes Gov. Pat Quinn made to the bill they approved more than a month ago. Some lawmakers feared that failure to pass something would mean virtually unregulated weapons in Chicago, which has endured severe gun violence in recent months -- including more than 70 shootings, at least 12 of them fatal, over the Independence Day weekend.

The Senate voted 41-17 in favor of the override Tuesday afternoon after the House voted 77-31, margins that met the three-fifths threshold needed to set aside the amendatory veto. Mr. Quinn had used his veto authority to suggest changes such as prohibiting guns in restaurants that serve alcohol and limiting gun-toting citizens to one firearm at a time.

Mr. Quinn had predicted a "showdown in Springfield" after a week of Chicago appearances to drum up support for the changes he made.

The Chicago Democrat faces a tough re-election fight next year and has already drawn a primary challenge from former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, who has criticized the governor's handling of the guns debate and other issues.

Lawmakers had little appetite for fiddling any further with the legislation on the deadline day the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago had set for ending what it said was an unconstitutional ban on carrying concealed weapons. Without action, the previous gun law would be invalidated, and none would take its place.

At a news conference late Tuesday, Mr. Quinn praised "heroic" lawmakers who supported him and said he would continue pushing for changes, including bans on guns where alcohol is served, a limit of one firearm carried at a time, and stricter mental health reporting.

The law that took effect Tuesday permits anyone with a Firearm Owner's Identification card who has passed a background check and undergone gun-safety training of 16 hours -- longest of any state -- to obtain a concealed-carry permit for $150.

The Illinois State Police would have six months to set up a system to start accepting applications. Spokeswoman Monique Bond said police expect 300,000 applications in the first year.

For years, powerful Chicago Democrats had tamped down agitation by gun owners to adopt concealed carry. So gun activists took the issue to court, and the 7th Circuit ruled that the Second Amendment permits citizens to take guns out of their homes.

The court's original June 9 deadline was extended by a month when lawmakers didn't send Mr. Quinn the plan until early that month.

Mr. Quinn had urged Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. A spokeswoman for Ms. Madigan, another potential gubernatorial rival, said Tuesday that there's no reason to appeal now, since Illinois has a concealed-carry law.

With the negotiated law, gun-rights advocates got the permissive law they sought, instead of a New York-style plan that gives law enforcement authorities wide discretion over who gets permits. In exchange, Chicago Democrats repulsed by gun violence got a long list of places deemed off limits to guns, including schools, libraries, parks and mass transit buses and trains.

nation


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