Chicago’s ban on assault weapons would be kept intact, and concealed weapons would be banned from numerous sites, such as CTA and Metra buses and trains, casinos, government buildings and stadiums. The bill moved to the full Senate on an 8-6 vote of the Executive Committee and then quickly passed the full Senate 45-12-1.
The bill needed 36 votes to pass instead of 30 because it would affect home-rule cities like Chicago.
“We worked really hard on this bill to come up with something that we think everybody can live with, but probably everybody won’t be happy with,” said sponsoring Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton. “But it’s something we need to do.”
“We’re not there yet on this bill, not even close,” said Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, who said the 16-hours of training required in the bill was not enough.
Democrats and Republicans got up to speak in favor.
“This bill is for the common good of all citizens, those who live in our dense cities, those who live in our rural areas, it’s time to put this issue to rest,” said Sen. William Haine, D-Alton.
“We all know but for the Constitution and the federal court, we might not be here today,” said Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington. “I think what’s most important is like 49 other states in the nation, the citizens of Illinois will enjoy a right and will become comfortable with because we crafted a good law, at least as a start.”
The action unfolded as the state faced a June 9 deadline put in place by a federal appeals court that struck down Illinois’ ban on carrying weapons in public.
State lawmakers have wrestled over how to bridge the state’s regional and philosophical divide between gun rights advocates and gun control proponents. In the latest version, both sides budget, and lawmakers indicated the city of Chicago and the National Rifle Association both registeried as neutral. But Chicago’s anti-gun lawmakers still contended the bill was not strong enough even as other lawmakers wanted fewer restrictions.
“We got a bill everybody can live with,” said Forby, the sponsor from Downstate Benton who has long fought for gun rights.
“Everybody agreed nobody liked” the bill, Forby said, “But it was something we had to do by July 9. … Nobody wanted to go over the cliff.”
Under the proposal, a five-year concealed weapons permit would be issued to applicants. Law enforcement could object, and an applicant could appeal to a seven-member board designed to have people with such credentials as former judges or FBI agents. A person would have to complete 16 hours of training before getting a gun.
A series of provisions were designed to prevent people with mental health problems from getting guns. “We don’t want to mentally ill people to have firearms, period,” said Rep. Brandon Phelps, the House’s main gun rights supporter and a major negotiator.
Attempts were made to allow gun owners to carry through different communities without getting hung up on a patchwork of local laws.
But Forby got peppered by lawmakers who worried that the legislation opened up the potential to allowing a person with a firearm owners identification card to have as many as 100 guns in his car trunk without violating laws.
Forby said he saw nothing illegal, prompting some lawmakers to shake their heads in disappointment.
Democratic Sen. Tony Munoz, a Chicago policeman, also questioned why the legislation would allow people to carry concealed weapons in places where more than half of the sales are for food.
Forby said a restaurant or bar owner also can put up a sign that says no guns are allowed, but Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, said the option is “ludicrous” because it would be hard to know who was complying with the sign unless there were a metal detector at the door.
Forby parried that somebody always will break the law “no matter what you do.”
Democratic Sen. Kim Lightford of Maywood contended the bill fails to give “enough protections in violent situations.”
The elements of the bill came together in a meeting Thursday with Speaker Michael Madigan, who had pushed through a separate proposal.