The state of Illinois has always opposed allowing citizens to carry concealed firearm weapons in public places, but IL Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) sponsored a bill last month in an attempt to change the opinions of lawmakers.
Illinois is the last state in the United States that doesn’t allow concealed firearms in in public places, but gun rights advocates were six votes shy of removing the ban last year, according to Robin Rister, administrative aid for Phelps.
“He tried last year, but it fell a few votes shy of passing,” Rister said.
Last month, Phelps proposed two bills on the issue, but ultimately decided to push for the one he thought had the most support.
If the bill gets passed, it will be become effective immediately, and the Illinois State Police Department will issue a license to carry a loaded or unloaded handgun to applicants that meet specific qualifications, except in certain places. If the applicants are approved, a license will be issued and valid for five years, according to the bill.
According to a 2011 poll, 65 percent of Illinois voters are opposed to concealed carry. For several years, Illinois policymakers have rejected concealed carry legislation because it is widely viewed as endangering the public and is opposed by Illinois voters.
While Illinois residents not currently allowed to carry firearms weapons in public places, some citizens have mixed feelings about the possibility of carrying concealed guns.
“I am completely against conceal carry legislation being passed,” said Dr. Khaleelah Muhammad, project director Auburn Gresham Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) at St. Sabina. “I believe that the reps who are in support of trying to get this passed are making a tremendous lapse in judgment. If this legislation is passed no one can know what the future holds in store, except that insecurity is a guarantee.”
The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative works to reduce youth violence by providing adult mentors, jobs and outreach training for Chicago youth.
Muhammad also said that if the law gets passed, it would send a message to our youth that their voice doesn’t count, their vote doesn’t count and their safety doesn’t count.
“I would rather not have it,” said Kitty Kurth, president of Kurth Lampe political consulting firm, former campaign manager, press secretary, media and general consultant for political races. “If I am sitting in a restaurant and someone has a gun then I want to know that.”
Kurth also said many representatives view this bill as a the protection of a right and not the extention of a privilege.
“They are quick to talk about the Second Amendment, but read it thoroughly,” said Kurth.
Pro-gun rights legislators agree: “We should be able to carry guns, and people should be allowed to protect themselves,” said Rister.
Pat Mahan, third place finisher in the 15th district state senate seat race supports Phelps’s push to allow citizens to carry concealed firearms.
“Illinois is the only state that doesn’t have it,” said Mahan, a South Holland resident. “I don’t have a problem with conceal and carry because the problem isn’t with the law abiding citizens, it’s with the criminals–and they get [guns] regardless.”
Mahan also said that there are local police officers and organizations in support of concealed carry by residents.
There are currently no meetings being held for this bill, and the next step will depend on Phelps. Co-Sponsors Rep. Eddie Jackson Jr. (D-East St. Louis) and Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) weren’t available for comment.
- Another Concealed Carry Bill Passes Out Of State House Committee (chicago.cbslocal.com)