Illinois is last state to allow concealed carry of guns

CHICAGO Tue Jul 9, 2013 6:41pm EDT

An Evanston police officer holds a firearm that was turned in as part of an amnesty-based gun buyback program in Evanston, Illinois December 15, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Young

An Evanston police officer holds a firearm that was turned in as part of an amnesty-based gun buyback program in Evanston, Illinois December 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois adopted a law on Tuesday allowing residents to carry concealed guns, becoming the last state in the nation to permit some form of possession of guns in public.

The Illinois action was a significant political victory for the gun rights lobby, the National Rifle Association, which strongly supported the new law and lobbied for its passage.

Illinois was the last holdout among the states in prohibiting residents from carrying guns in public.

Gun control has been a hot national issue since 20 children and six adults were killed at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, last December, prompting President Barack Obama to push Congress for tighter gun laws. Congress failed to enact a law supported by Obama that would have strengthened background checks for gun purchases.

In the state Obama considers home and where he served in the state Senate, the legislature voted to expand gun rights.

Democratic Governor Pat Quinn had objected to major parts of the concealed carry proposal. But both chambers of the state legislature voted on Tuesday to override his veto, allowing concealed carry to become the law.

After the legislation passed, Quinn blasted the NRA, saying the gun rights organization had negotiated concealed carry with legislators behind closed doors to avoid public scrutiny.

"Members of the General Assembly surrendered to the National Rifle Association in the waning days of session and passed a flawed bill," Quinn said in a statement.

The head of the NRA's sister organization, the Illinois State Rifle Association, differed with Quinn.

"The bill has been 20 years in the making," said Richard Pearson, Executive Director of the Illinois association. "There are 1.6 million gun owners in this state. Those people have been deprived of their rights for years."

The new law says that Illinois state police "shall issue" a permit to carry concealed guns to any applicant who passes a background check, takes 16 hours of required firearms training and meets other conditions. The bill would ban guns in some public places such as bars, schools and hospitals.

The Illinois legislature meeting in Springfield acted only after a federal appeals court last December ruled that the state prohibition on concealed carry violated the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which sets out the right to bear arms. The court gave Illinois until July 9 to enact a new law.

The issue of gun control divided the Illinois Democratic party, which holds large majorities in the legislature, along urban-rural lines. Some lawmakers from Chicago voted against concealed carry because they feared the new law would make it harder to control a wave of gun violence in the nation's third largest city. Rural lawmakers, where hunting is popular, strongly supported concealed carry.

After the Illinois legislature acted, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called a special city council meeting for July 17 to discuss strengthening the city's existing assault weapons ban. He called the meeting because the new concealed carry law gives cities and towns a window of only 10 days to pass separate laws.

Quinn said the bill would endanger public safety, and he made a series of proposals to change it. Lawmakers considered some small changes to the bill suggested by the governor, but overruled him anyway.

Quinn did not immediately comment after the legislature voted.

(Editing by Bernard Orr)

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Comments (5)
gitmojo wrote:
This act, when exercised by responsible individuals, will dramatically reduce the violent crime that currently afflicts residents.
Criminals should quickly realize that they’re no longer dealing with a public unable to defend themselves.
This has taken far too long.

Jul 09, 2013 5:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
howyoudoin wrote:
Wow I don’t know where this reporter got his information but there are other states that have conceal and carry permits for the public. Depending on the state it is also legal to carry a firearm on your person without a permit as long as he firearm is visible to the public.

Jul 09, 2013 5:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Evo1 wrote:
Well, while Illinois residents still have to wait a minimum of six months before they can even go through their state’s still ridiculously overburdened process for a license, those of us with licenses from our other home states can now legally carry while driving in our cars. I think I’ll take a weekend trip through Chicago with my concealed firearm just to celebrate freedom in the heart of the seat of oppression.

Oh, and nice idiotically inappropriate and irrelevant picture you lead with there Reuters, making it look as though this person with an UNCONCEALED weapon is a threat to the police officer. Never mind that licensed concealed carriers in the US are more than 20 times LESS likely to commit an illegal killing than even the police are, and that the vast majority of polled rank-and-file police officers support permissive concealed carry laws in national polls by non-partisan groups.

Jul 09, 2013 5:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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