Illinois Remains Last Bastion of Ban on Concealed Carry

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With the June 2011 passage of concealed carry legislation in Wisconsin, Illinois remains the last state in the U.S. that forbids its citizens from carrying handguns. In March 2011 advocates of concealed carry legislation in the Illinois House of Representatives believed they had the support necessary to pass legislation allowing Illinois residents to carry concealed handguns. State Rep. Brandon Phelps, the sponsor of the latest concealed carry bill, claimed there was overwhelming support for the bill from citizens across the state.

A revamped version of concealed carry legislation finally made it out of committee in May 2011, only to have Gov. Pat Quinn declare he would veto any concealed carry bill that came across his desk. Those seeking to change Illinois' notoriously strict handgun laws may have a difficult time for several reasons.

Opposition From The Governor

Governor Quinn vocalized his opposition to any form of concealed carry legislation, citing a variety of reasons for his position. Quinn told reporters that the anti-violence commission he appointed last year unanimously opposed the passage of such legislation. He also noted that during both the primary and general elections he was adamant against legislation "allowing private citizens to carry loaded, concealed handguns."

Quinn stated that he did not believe that the proposal would enhance public safety in Illinois. He argued if people were to carry concealed handguns it would actually make daily life more dangerous in the state because there would be a greater possibility people would be tempted to use their guns for foolish reasons and petty arguments, increasing the likelihood that people will be injured.

Quinn also opposes a two-tiered system, wherein people could carry concealed handguns outside of the Chicago metro area but not inside of the city.

Opposition From Others

Gov. Quinn is not the only one who is hostile to a concealed carry law in Illinois. In April, Chicago police officers traveled to the state capitol to make their opposition to the bill known.

Other lawmakers, such as state Sen. Terry Link, are also against the bill. Link said there are different feelings in Chicago about handguns versus the rest of the state. He argued concealed carry laws have a different impact on congested urban environments than suburban and rural areas and that people in the city live in fear of gun violence.

The advocacy group the Illinois Coalition against Handgun Violence also disapproves of the bill. The group noted there are already severe problems with the background checks for the Firearm Owner's Identification cards that Illinois residents need to purchase or posses any kind of firearm, in that those who are not qualified to own a gun due to mental illness are still getting FOID cards. ICAHV believes there would be similar issues with background checks for concealed carry permits.

ICAHV also argues the evidence does not support the claim that concealed carry laws reduce crime and believes people possessing firearms in public present significant safety threats.

Concealed carry legislation is a volatile topic in Illinois, with many people advocating strongly both for and against change to the current gun laws. Those looking to bring Illinois in line with the rest of the states in allowing people to carry handguns face a long battle.