Wait 'til Next Year, Illinois

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posted on May 12, 2011
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It's been heard many times in the state of Illinois, but the phrase, "Wait 'til next year," has usually spoken been in response to the perennial disappointment that is the Chicago Cubs baseball team, which hasn't won a World Series game for 103 years. Now, it's being verbalized by law enforcement authorities, sportsmen, gun enthusiasts, lawmakers and supporters of the Second Amendment who strongly believed this was the year they'd finally see passage of a concealed-carry bill in the Land of Lincoln.

But it wasn't to be.

House Bill 148, known as the Family and Personal Protection Act, had unprecedented support of national and state pro-firearms organizations, as well as from Illinois law enforcement leaders. But, in the end, it was not enough to overcome a decades-old political disparity that divides Chicago and its urban environs from the remainder of the state.

On May 5, the Illinois House voted 65-32 in favor of the measure that would have allowed concealed carry of firearms for personal protection by law-abiding citizens of Illinois, with one member voting "present." But the measure required a supermajority of 71 votes to pre-empt the home-rule of cities.

A supermajority was also needed to override a promised veto by defiant Gov. Pat Quinn (D).

The measure received broad support from downstate legislators of both parties, while Chicago-area representatives generally opposed it.

Currently, only Illinois and Wisconsin prohibit any type of concealed carry.

"After the U.S. Supreme court's ruling overturning the City of Chicago's gun ban, we felt confident conceal carry legislation could pass in the Illinois legislature; however, today those hopes were thwarted by Chicago politicians committed to denying the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens," bill co-sponsor Rep. David Reis (R-Ste. Marie) said in a statement following Thursday's vote.

"With 48 states instituting some form of concealed carry with little to no problems and lowering their crime rates, I believe their successes clearly prove our need to enact concealed carry in Illinois. Law-abiding citizens must be entitled to carry a firearm if they meet the eligibility requirements and provisions set forth in House Bill 148."

In addition to the support of the National Rifle Association, the measure was endorsed by groups including the Illinois State Rifle Association, Illinois Sheriffs Association, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Police Benevolent and Protective Association, Eastern Illinois University, Colleen Lawson and Otis McDonald (Plaintiffs in the McDonald v. Chicago case), Madison County State's Attorney, Peoria County Sheriff, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, Chicago Police Sergeants PBPA Unit 156A and Chicago Police Lieutenants Association.

The legislation remains stalled in the Illinois House.

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