The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Ill. Senate panel approves gun-carry agreement

  • A Senate committee narrowly endorsed compromise legislation Friday that would make Illinois the last state in the nation to allow people to carry concealed guns.
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  • A Senate committee narrowly endorsed compromise legislation Friday that would make Illinois the last state in the nation to allow people to carry concealed guns.
    The 8-6 vote in the Executive Committee sends a deal to the floor that was worked out with the House, which had rival legislation the Senate rejected earlier this week.
    A full Senate roll call was expected Friday afternoon, the final scheduled day of the Legislature's spring session. It also comes just days before a federal court-imposed deadline for enacting a law.
    The measure would require local governments to allow the public possession of concealed weapons, but existing firearms ordinances can be retained. That provision was a must for Senate Democrats, who defeated a House-approved measure that invalidated all local firearms ordinances, such as Chicago's ban on assault-style weapons.
    In December, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Illinois to drop its ban on public possession of firearms by June 9. No one is certain what would happen after that date.
    "I don't think any of us want that mayhem," Rep. Brandon Phelps, a southern Illinois Democrat and sponsor of the House version, told the committee. "We've come a long way on both sides."
    Despite the agreement backed by Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago, several Democrats were critical of the legislation.
    "I understand neogtiations, but I have to still stand strong in the fact I think we could have done a better job protecting areas that have challenges with violence," said Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat. " ... Not giving our local municipalities a final say pretty much puts our communities at a disadvantage."
    If the Senate passes the bill, it would return to the House for concurrence before landing on Gov. Pat Quinn's desk. A spokeswoman for the Democratic governor, who has spoken out for strong local control on regulating guns, wouldn't disclose his position.
    The Phelps camp won a concession allowing gun owners to carry a weapon when entering restaurants or other businesses that serve alcohol — if liquor makes up no more than half the gross sales. Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago, initially had insisted on nixing guns from a business that served any liquor.
    A property owner could post a "no guns" sign, however.
    A list of nearly two dozen places that would be gun-free — mass transit buses and trains, schools, hospitals, and street festivals — remains in the bill at the request of Chicago officials, who, along with the pro-gun National Rifle Association, took no position on the bill.
    "We've got a bill everyone can live with," said Sen. Gary Forby, a southern Illinois Democrat who took over Senate sponsorship from Raoul.
    Another key concession to gun-rights advocates would make automobiles what Phelps calls "safe harbor" for firearms, meaning a gun could be stored securely in a car even if it is parked in a prohibited place.
    Page 2 of 2 - Other Democrats called for a provision requiring lost or stolen weapons to be reported, particularly in Chicago, where gun violence is rampant.
    "It's totally different than downstate," said Sen. Antonio "Tony" Munoz, a Chicago police officer on leave. "A lot of things that can happen. Weapons can get stolen. People have the tendency to lose things."
    The bill is HB183.
    Online: http://www.ilga.gov
    Contact AP Political Writer John O'Connor at https://www.twitter.com/apoconnor
    Associated Press writer Kerry Lester contributed to this report.
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