Tempers flare during state House debate on concealed weapons bill
BY DAVE MCKINNEY AND ZACH BUCHHEIT Staff Reporters April 17, 2013 8:08PM
Illinois Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, argues gun legislation while on the House floor during session at the Illinois State Capitol Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Springfield Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Updated: May 19, 2013 7:54AM
SPRINGFIELD — The fight over how to let gun owners carry their weapons in public turned ugly and personal Wednesday when debate devolved into whether one Illinois House member had the proper temperament to carry a loaded gun.
The fight that erupted on the House floor between state Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood) and Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) came before the House overwhelmingly voted down a concealed-carry plan that had been drafted by gun-control advocates.
The proposal by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), which failed 31-76, with six members voting present, would have set up a process in which county sheriffs and the Illinois State Police would have been a two-tiered chokepoint that could greatly restrict who could get permits to carry their guns in public.
Opposed by gun-rights organizations, Cassidy’s legislation was criticized as giving law enforcement too much authority to keep gun owners from getting concealed-carry permits, a point Drury, a former federal prosecutor, dismissed during floor debate as “nonsense.”
Bost, whose past style of floor tirades has gone viral on the Internet, angrily tore into Drury, prompting the suburban Democrat to joke: “We don’t want someone like that carrying a concealed weapon!”
The quip further enflamed Bost, who yelled over the repeated admonitions of state Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields), who was running the chamber and threatened to call in House door men to restore order.
After the House rejected Cassidy’s amendment, Bost and Drury both publicly expressed regrets for their conduct.
“I’d like to apologize to the chair and members of this House to the extent my comments were taken as a personal attack,” Drury said.
Aside from the debate’s color, the vote represented a serious setback for gun-control advocates who had hoped to seize on the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal earlier this week to find a similarly restrictive concealed-carry law in New York state unconstitutional.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said that decision by the nation’s high court would enable Illinois to put a similar law in place that would not guarantee the automatic licensing of anyone wanting a state-issued concealed-carry permit.
The Legislature and Gov. Pat Quinn are facing an early June deadline to draw up a concealed-carry law. That deadline was imposed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with gun-rights advocates in declaring Illinois’ prohibition on concealed weapons unconstitutional.
Illinois is the only state without a concealed-carry law.