Gun owners in the only state still banning concealed weapons would win that right under a plan approved by the Illinois House on Friday, but the governor and other powerful Democrats oppose the plan because it would wipe out local gun ordinances — including Chicago's ban on assault weapons.
The proposal was brokered by House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, as a way to abide by a federal appeals court's ruling that ordered the state to adopt a concealed-carry law by June 9. But the plan drew swift opposition after it was unveiled this week, with Gov. Pat Quinn's office calling it a "massive overreach" because of the way it would curb local firearms regulations.
Chief among them is Chicago's ban on assault-style weapons, which would be stricken from the books. That's a deal-breaker for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who backs tough restrictions to curb gun violence in the nation's third largest city.
The measure would require Illinois State Police to issue a permit to any applicant who has a Firearm Owners Identification card, completes required training, passes a background check, and pays a $150 fee. But it significantly broadens the places where guns would be prohibited, including mass-transit buses and trains, which was a demand of Chicago Democrats.
The legislation is being sponsored by Rep. Brandon Phelps, a southern Illinois Democrat and ardent gun-rights supporter whose more permissive plan failed by seven votes last month.
Madigan stepped in after that failed vote, and the resulting plan would pre-empt any city or county gun regulation, such as taxes on gun sales or requirements for reporting lost or stolen guns. Phelps and Madigan argue that it would be best to have one statewide law to reduce confusion and have future restrictions get state legislators' approval in Springfield.
But Quinn's office said the pre-emption would jeopardize public safety.
The legislation also is opposed by Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat like Quinn and Madigan. The Senate's plan would only pre-empt local laws by requiring them to adopt concealed-carry laws. Opponents of Phelps' plan note that the only issue that the federal court addressed was conceal-and-carry, not other gun provisions.
The legislation was forced by a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in December that decreed the state's ban on concealed carry unconstitutional. The court gave lawmakers until June 9 to enact a law.