Miller: Poll shows Illinoisans back concealed carry, extra review in Chicago, Cook
By Rich Miller www.thecapitolfaxblog.com April 28, 2013 7:34PM
Updated: May 30, 2013 2:42PM
A new statewide poll shows that a majority of Illinoisans favor concealed carry. But it also shows that an overwhelming majority everywhere in the state also say it’s OK if Chicago and Cook County police have additional authority over who gets to carry in their jurisdictions.
The Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll April 24 of 1,284 likely voters found that 52 percent say they approve of allowing concealed carry.
“Illinois lawmakers are debating proposed laws that would allow some citizens who are properly licensed to carry concealed firearms,” respondents were told. “In general, do you approve or disapprove of allowing licensed citizens to carry loaded, concealed firearms?”
The poll found that 46 percent disapprove and just 2 percent were neutral or had no opinion. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent, and 26 percent of the numbers called were cellphones.
Geography breaks down pretty much how you’d expect. Chicagoans staunchly opposed concealed carry by 69 percent to 29 percent, while suburban Cook County voters opposed it 52 to 46. Downstaters strongly support the proposal (67 percent to 32 percent) and collar county voters support it 53 to 46.
Women disapproved of the idea 55-43, while men supported it 64-34. Republicans backed it 72-26, Democrats opposed it 34-65 and independents favored it 61-36. Blacks were against the idea 61-36, but whites backed it 56-43 as did Latinos by 56-43.
The results for the poll’s second question were even more interesting.
The Senate is considering a plan that would allow Chicago and Cook County sheriff’s police to reject concealed-carry permits issued by Illinois State Police if they have questions about the applicants’ character.
That plan stalled last week when Republican senators balked after strong National Rifle Association opposition and Chicago-area Democrats demanded more restrictions in the rest of the bill.
But the voting public absolutely loves this idea, with a whopping 73 percent voicing their approval.
“I can’t get 73 percent of people to agree that it’s dark at midnight,” joked We Ask America pollster Gregg Durham.
“If a concealed-carry law is passed, Chicago and Cook County law enforcement officials want the right to stop a permit being issued to any individual in Chicago or Cook County when there is a concern about the applicant’s character,” respondents were told. “Do you think they should be able to stop a permit in Chicago or Cook County under those circumstances?”
A mere 22 percent disagreed with the proposal and only 5 percent were neutral or had no opinion. Among downstaters, the poll indicated that 71 percent of likely voters approved of the plan, while 25 percent were against it.
The results didn’t surprise Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), who’s attempting to craft a compromise bill. Raoul believes that downstaters don’t care what happens in Chicago or anywhere else as long as they get their right to carry. And he said Chicagoans are so concerned about guns that they want their local cops to have an extra say.
The NRA has threatened legislators with retaliation if residents of Chicago and Cook County don’t get the same access to concealed carry as everyone else, but that particular message may not fly as long as downstaters are able to carry.
Even so, downstaters seem to be sticking with the NRA.
“I am working to pass a concealed-carry law that specifically says it shall apply to all counties in Illinois,” state Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) wrote on his website last week. “The Second Amendment of the Constitution applies (to) all citizens, including those in Chicago.”
But a sky-high 80 percent of likely Chicago voters approved of the extra-review proposal, along with 72 percent of suburban Cook voters and 71 percent of collar county voters.
Support was also very high across all demographics. Women were 80-14 in favor, and men backed it by 62-32. Black voters backed it 75-16, whites by 65-34 and Latinos by 75-18. Republicans supported it 64-30, Democrats 82-13 and independents 67-23.
Results such as that could make you think the concept of a character review ought to be a no-brainer issue.
But the NRA is bringing all of its considerable political clout to the table on concealed carry, and that muscle is, so far, outweighing overwhelming public opinion.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com