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Illinois Concealed Carry Debate Continues

by Carl Wicklander, published
(Credit: Chicago Tribune)

(Credit: Chicago Tribune)

Approximately one month separates residents from the deadline that makes Illinois concealed carry a reality. Failure to meet this deadline and enact some form of concealed carry legislation will leave no restrictions in place as the passions on both sides are heating up.

Last December, when Illinois' ban on concealed weapons was ruled unconstitutional by a US Circuit Court of Appeals, many eyes looked to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a long-time advocate of gun control and a presumed gubernatorial candidate, to appeal the ruling. Madigan previously had until May 23 to decide to appeal the ruling. The US Supreme Court has now granted her an extra month to decide on an appeal. The extension now gives her until June 24. Madigan's office released a statement saying:

"The extension allows for additional time to prepare a draft petition to allow the Attorney General to make a final decision on whether to seek (appeal)."

If no legislation is passed by June 9, concealed carry will go into effect in Illinois without any regulations. The appeal extension does not affect the reality of the June 9 date.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly is still debating what limitations to put on concealed carry. Advocates on both sides received setbacks a few weeks ago when each had bills defeated. A recent outburst between opponents in the State House may also provide a window into the pressure some are feeling regarding the approaching deadline.

Debating a change in the concealed carry bill, Republican Rep. Mike Bost and Democratic Rep. Scott Drury engaged in verbal fisticuffs on the House floor. Bost objected to a proposed amendment that would have made Illinois a "May Issue" state:

"Floor amendments should be some technical small change that we shouldn't have to worry about. But yet you bring a whole bill that has questions whether it is even constitutional . . . This is not the bill that everyone has debated!"

Drury responded by questioning the Republicans' credibility on the matter of constitutionality:

"A lot of talk in this room about the Constitution and what's constitutional - but the last time I looked around there's not one single constitutional scholar sitting in this chamber. So why don't we stop with all the nonsense about what's constitutional and what's not constitutional and get to what's actually in the bill."

Bost interrupted and order was nearly lost. After the outburst, Drury said in Bost's direction, "We don't want someone like that carrying a concealed weapon."

The amendment in question was eventually defeated. Its defeat left the bill in the same place as before.

The recent events in the Illinois concealed carry debate indicate it is a state that is still far from establishing a threshold on gun rights and safety. Attorney General Lisa Madigan has some extra time to appeal the ruling, but the deadline is fast approaching. Yet, regardless of the appeal process, there is approximately one month before concealed carry becomes a reality in Illinois - possibly without any regulations.


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