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State Senate Gun Bill to Get Overhaul

Language appears more restrictive than promised

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State Senate Gun Bill to Get Overhaul

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Illinois Senate legislation touted as a compromise between Chicagoans weary of street violence and gun owners eager to legally carry concealed weapons elsewhere appears more restrictive than promised, according to a copy obtained by The Associated Press. It will be redrafted before it's even filed, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat, had said the plan was a permissive concealed carry program. But the language indicates that Illinois State Police could deny permits to anyone unable to show they faced a violent threat or did not have a "proper reason" for carrying one -- hallmarks of gun-permit laws in states with more restrictive rules.

Raoul's idea was to provide better control over permits for carrying concealed weapons in Chicago and Cook County with a review by local police. Raoul said last week that outside of Chicago, the concealed carry law would require review only by the state police. Raoul described his proposal as "shall issue," a less-restrictive means of screening permit applicants.

To gun-rights advocates, "shall issue" means an applicant gets a permit if he or she passes a background check and gets the requisite training. Raoul's initial legislation, however, is closer to a "may issue" law in that it would require an applicant to provide state police with "a proper reason for carrying a firearm" and prove that he or she "is a responsible person of good moral character" whose permit would be "consistent with public safety."

An explanation of "proper reason" would include descriptions of threats or injuries, police reports, order of protection or no-contact orders, according to the legislation.

"That's exactly what 'may issue' is," said Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Democrat from Harrisburg who is the House point person on concealed carry and a "shall issue" proponent.

"In New York, you have to prove to them that you have a reason to have a concealed carry permit. ... We just think that if you pass the background check, and you meet all the qualifications with the training, you should be able to get a concealed carry permit, no matter who you are," Phelps said.

Raoul was not immediately available for comment. Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate Democrats, said the proposal "is being modified to address concerns and issues made by our caucus last week."

Sen. Tim Bivins, a Dixon Republican who spent 20 years as Lee County sheriff, had worked with Raoul on the Senate plan but said last week after seeing the language that some Republicans were concerned about it — including the interpretation that it was a "may issue" plan. He did not return a phone call Monday.

Phelps' proposed "shall issue" measure failed in the House 10 days ago, getting 64 of the 71 needed votes. He said later he might have lost some votes to Democrats who were waiting to see Raoul's Senate version.

Phelps is fine-tuning his bill and said he will call it again for a vote.

The Associated Press
 

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