Could Concealed Carry End Up With Every Municipality For Itself?

The state House looked at a restrictive shall-issue law; that failed. It looked at a very restrictive may-issue law; that failed badly. The end game could be a compromise, or a compromise by default.

José M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune

Sen. Kwame Raoul (left), Rep. Brandon Phelps (right)

This month I wrote about how Illinois must institute a concealed-carry law by early June, the last state to do so, and the many, many options available to legislators, ranging from the very strict—"may issue” laws, which give local law enforcement discretion over issuance—to a hodgepodge of regulations that cover everything from alcoholism to accuracy. (What works best? No one knows; that kind of comparative data doesn’t exist.)

There are lots and lots of options, but that doesn’t guarantee they can be arranged in any combination that will pass the Illinois legislature. With about a month and a half to go, the legislature has been fairly active in attempting to pass legislation, but unsuccessful in actually passing anything.

* “May issue,” in a statewide form, looks like it’s DOA. A New York-style may-issue law went down to epic defeat in the Illinois House, 76-31. Despite the bill’s considerable lack of support, it got ugly:

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!”

* Meanwhile, far downstate Democrat Brandon Phelps has been pushing shall-issue laws for awhile, which would require the state to issue concealed-carry permits to anyone who doesn’t violate whatever restrictions are included in the legislation.

Phelps’s current legislation is somewhat restrictive; for instance, it prohibits permits for anyone who “chronically and habitually” abuses alcohol, as evidenced by having gone to residential or court-ordered treatment or had two DUIs in the last five years. (It does have a means of appealing this decision.) A few states use the residential/court-ordered treatment standard, and not all of those go back five years. It has a long list of places in which concealed carry is illegal, like “any stadium or arena,” bars, and amusement parks. 

But, of particular interest to Chicagoans: The resolution, ordinance, or policy shall not prohibit a licensee from carrying a concealed firearm in a public transportation facility or while accessing the services of a public transportation agency, including while traveling via public transportation.

He called it “probably the strictest shall-issue bill in the country”; there are other not-uncommon restrictions that could be added to it, but on the whole it’s comparatively restrictive as shall-issue laws go.

His compromise legislation has tended to be well-received in the legislature, but it needs a supermajority of 71 because it tells cities and municipalities what to do, superseding home rule. So it failed today despite receiving 64 yeas versus 45 nays.

So even with the pressure of a Supreme Court Seventh Circuit court ruling, we’re still basically where we were in 2011: substantial legislative support of concealed carry, not quite enough to pass it through the House. Where does that leave us? The informed discussion at Capitol Fax today points in two directions that end up in a somewhat similar place. Either the legislature passes something like Phelps’s bill but without the home-rule language, providing a statewide baseline for concealed carry while allowing home-rule jurisdictions (like, you know, Chicago) to add restrictions. The other is that the legislature doesn’t pass anything, jurisidictions scramble to implement concealed carry, and everyone takes their chances with the courts.

Or another compromise, state-wide bill could be fashioned. But if a fairly restrictive shall-issue bill is too hot, a very restrictive may-issue bill is too cold, finding something that’s just right after several rounds of futility will be difficult.

 

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