House committee advances new concealed-carry proposal

News-DemocratMay 23, 2013 

A compromise bill on how to regulate the carrying of guns in public passed an Illinois House committee on Thursday and now goes to the House floor.

The bill, which emerged Wednesday and is sponsored by Rep. Brandon Phelps and Rep. Jerry Costello II, is more restrictive than a previous concealed-carry proposal they had filed. That bill narrowly failed in the House.

But they hope the revisions, including one that would allow local police agencies to object to license applications, will make the new bill palatable to Chicago-area lawmakers.

The House's Judiciary Committee voted to 13-3 to send the new bill to the House floor, where a vote is expected Friday. The metro-east's members on the committee include Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville, and Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, both of whom voted in favor of passage.

If the House approves the bill, it would go to the Senate, where a much more restrictive bill has been offered by a Chicago-area senator.

Hoffman noted that if the legislature doesn't come up with a concealed-carry bill by June 9 court deadline, people would be able to carry guns with almost no restrictions. Another possibility is that local communities could enact their own regulations, creating a patchwork of rules.

"If we do nothing, we're going to have the wild, wild west, we're going to have no laws -- or no consistent laws," Hoffman said.

He added that consistency in laws is needed "so the citizens can follow the law, understand the law, and so it can be implemented on a fair and rational basis."

Under the new Phelps-Costello bill, if a local police agency objects to a person's concealed-carry application, the applicant could appeal to a new review board. The board would consist mostly of former federal law enforcement agents, judges and prosecutors -- three from Cook County and four from the rest of the state.

The bill also would prohibit municipalities from enacting their own gun laws, effectively abolishing Chicago's ban on so-called "assault" weapons.

A concealed-carry license for an Illinois resident would cost $150, and would require 16 hours of training.

The new bill is listed as a House amendment to Senate Bill 2193.

The proposal offered by Chicago Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul, which is awaiting a vote on the Senate floor, would require applicants to be "of good moral character," and they would need a "proper reason" for carrying a gun. It also would allow municipalities to put further restrictions on where a gun could be carried.

Gov. Pat Quinn has said he favors letting municipalities decide their own gun control laws.

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