Updated: June 3, 2013 3:26PM
The clock keeps ticking in Springfield toward a June 9 deadline for the Legislature, pursuant to a federal appeals court ruling, to approve a law allowing citizens to carry a concealed gun.
It’s likely lawmakers will go right up to the deadline (which could be extended) as they again try to overcome the marked geographical divide that has existed for many years on the controversial issue.
In light of the federal court decision and the fact that concealed carry is legal in every state but Illinois, it’s not a question of whether a law will be approved but when. A compromise proposed by a state senator from Chicago offers hope. We think that, with a change or two, it’s deserving of passage.
The political alignment on concealed carry has Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago-area Democrats, who control both chambers, on one side and legislators from just about everywhere else on the other.
Those representing Chicago and Cook County are leery of concealed carry, fearing it could lead to more gun violence, and want as many restrictions on permits as they can get. But that court deadline is pressuring them. If no law passes by June 9, concealed carry conceivably could be open to anyone without limitation.
The powerful National Rifle Association, armed with the appeals court ruling and polls showing a clear majority of Illinois residents favor concealed carry, is pushing hard to allow anyone who passes a background check and required firearms training to pack a pistol.
Sen. Kwame Raoul’s compromise bill would let Chicago police and Cook County sheriff’s police deny a concealed-carry permit for those areas to an applicant about whom they have doubts, even if state police have approved it. Raoul’s proposal addresses Cook County lawmakers’ concerns while allowing residents elsewhere, where gun violence is much less prevalent, to avoid such a local restriction.
He needs to drop provisions that an applicant needs a “proper reason” to have a gun and must be a “responsible person of good moral character” because that wording is too vague. But otherwise the bill is worthy of serious consideration, and we hope it gets it.