5/23/2013 12:05:00 PM Guns bill up for vote Friday
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois legislation allowing public possession of concealed guns has passed the House Judiciary Committee. It was a compromise backed by Speaker Michael Madigan.
The measure was endorsed today 13-3 and goes to the full House Friday. It comes two weeks before a June 9 deadline set by a federal appeals court for Illinois to abandon its prohibition on the public possession of weapons.
The legislation would require the Illinois State Police to issue concealed carry permits to qualified gun owners. It’s patterned on a bill introduced by gun-rights advocate Rep. Brandon Phelps, a southern Illinois Democrat.
The new House plan requires a $150 application fee, 50 percent higher than sponsoring Rep. Brandon Phelps originally wanted. Phelps, of Harrisburg, discussed the measure with fellow House Democrats late Wednesday afternoon.
The legislation is similar to his original plan, which failed by seven votes in the House last month, but contains key changes drafted by House Speaker Michael Madigan’s staff.
It would prohibit carrying firearms on publicly subsidized transportation, a must for Chicago Democrats wary of a slew of weaponry on Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains. And it adds a prohibition on municipal parks and athletic areas, along with making “any building or portion of a building under the control of a unit of local government” gun-free.
Todd Vandermyde, lobbyist for the National Rifle Association in Illinois, said outside the closed-door House Democrats’ caucus meeting that it was too early to comment on the plan.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that the Illinois ban on concealed weapons on public streets is unconstitutional. It gave lawmakers in the last state in the nation to prohibit it until June 9 to rectify the omission.
Gun-rights advocates nonetheless have had to fight every step of the way. Illinois is divided on the gun issue more geographically than politically. Chicago Democrats support strong curbs on guns while in other parts of the state. Gun owners say the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms should be interpreted liberally.