SPRINGFIELD — A bill that would set up the rules to allow concealed weapons to be carried in Illinois has started moving through the state senate.
The measure would require a gun owner to get a special endorsement from the Chicago police in order to legally carry guns in the city. It also bans weapons from being carried while riding public trains and buses as well as in bars, hospitals, schools, casinos and private businesses that choose to prohibit weapons in their stores.
The paramaters on concealed carry remain a contentious issue that is sure to be challenged by gun rights supporters who want fewer restrictions. After a two hour hearing, the bill advanced out of the Senate Executive Committee on a 10-4 vote with another senator voting present. It could be taken up on the Senate floor as early as Friday.
Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, hailed South Side Sen. Kwame Raoul, the sponsor, for forging the parameters of the legislation.
"I want to commend Sen. Raoul for negotiating another tough issue on behalf of our caucus,” Cullerton said in a statement. “The framework of this proposal acknowledges the diversity of our state, embraces local control, and provides for sensible safeguards."
Republican Sen. Tim Bivins, a former sheriff from Dixon, said he was concerned about allowing home rule communities to pick and choose where guns could be carried. Bivins said it would create a confusing patchwork of regulations that would make it difficult for gun owners to know if they were carrying legally.
"It's problematic," Bivins said. "You just wouldn't know from town to town whether you are in violation or not."
Bivins said he expects heavy opposition to the legislation from gun rights advocates.
Under the measure, State Police would be required to give concealed carry licenses to a person if he or she meets a series of qualifications.
But local law enforcement officials could object to allowing someone in their community to get a permit over public safety concerns. Chicago officials would be allowed to do their own investigations on applicants beyond any done by the State Police. To get a permit, a person would have to complete training.
The bill also seeks to close what anti-gun advocates call a loophole that allows private sales and transfers of guns without checking in with the state to see if a buyer has a proper state firearms owner identification card. Under the measure, the seller would have to verify a buyer has a valid FOID card.
The state’s larger communities with home-rule powers would be able to ban guns in a variety of places that officials deem sensitive areas. The legislation seeks to strengthen mental health reporting requirements.
It also requires a gun owner to report a lost or stolen gun within three days of realizing it is missing.
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