The law was inevitable, but in the end, Gov. Pat Quinn couldn’t hold out for more limits.
On Tuesday -- backed by 77-31 and 41-17 votes by Illinois’ House of Representatives and its Senate -- lawmakers overrode a Quinn veto to end the state’s ban on carrying concealed weapons. It is the last state in the U.S. to impose such a prohibition.
The new law expands Illinois residents’ gun liberties, as well as the size of Illinois’ government, and springs from a December ruling by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that found the state’s outright ban on carrying concealed guns unconstitutional.
The court mandated that Illinois pass new concealed-carry rules by summer. Quinn, a Democrat, had vetoed the legislation July 2 in hopes that the Legislature would amend the bill to keep guns out of businesses that sell alcohol and off private property where owners forbid weapons. (The bill bans weapons in businesses where alcohol is a majority of the sales.)
”Following a weekend of horrific violence in Chicago in which at least 70 people were shot and 12 killed, this was the wrong move for public safety in Illinois,” Quinn said after the override.
“Members of the Illinois House could not even manage to pass follow-up legislation that included a few of the critical changes that I outlined last week, such as improved mental health reporting and the duty to immediately inform law enforcement officers of the possession of a loaded concealed weapon,” Quinn said.
The new law creates a pathway for gun owners to apply for five-year licenses, which would be subject to individual approval by the state’s law enforcement agencies and would require a 16-hour training course.
The government must appoint, with the Senate’s approval, a seven-member board to approve police objections to new licenses, and the names of concealed-carry license holders will be considered closed records.
Illinois State Police project that the agency will receive about 300,000 applications for concealed-carry licenses once the applications go into place sometime between January and April, spokeswoman Monique Bond told the Los Angeles Times. Applications for in-state residents will cost $150.
State police expect to spend $25 million setting up a new concealed-carry unit that will handle background checks for applicants, and officials are already working on implementing new training for officers on how to handle citizens who are lawfully carrying guns, Bond said.
The new law encompasses residents of Chicago -- a central focus of the nation’s gun-crime woes -- where some front-line police officers’ reactions struck a different note than that of the city’s leadership.
Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, several Chicago police officers thought the new law would be a good idea for law-abiding citizens, though they agreed there might be a learning curve in dealing with a lawfully carrying owner.
“I think it’ll be a little bit of a rough start in the beginning,” a South Side officer told the Chicago Tribune, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I’m happy for the average citizen who is not up to no good.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy have opposed allowing residents to carry concealed weapons.
“The answer to guns is not more guns,” McCarthy said Monday before the Legislature overrode Quinn’s veto. “We’re going to have tragedies. ... It needs to be controlled in a reasonable fashion. And I don’t see that that’s happening right now.”