Ill. House rejects concealed carry law

Illinois legislators are gearing up for another gun control debate just as the state House struck down a concealed carry proposal by a six-vote margin last week.

The state Senate is now debating a bill that would impose more punishment on gun traffickers in the wake of the state House’s voting against legislation that would have eased restrictions on gun carrying.

“We got the most votes we’ve ever got in the history of Illinois,” said state Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), who introduced House Bill 148.

The bill would have allowed individuals to apply for permits to carry firearms concealed, provided the individual is older than 21, holds a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card and has taken training classes. It failed to clear the state House by a vote of 65-32-1, narrowly missing the 71-vote margin.

Phelps said he was not surprised by the results but nonetheless was disappointed.

“Criminals are always going to have guns, and we’re just going to be more at their mercy,” he said.

Illinois and Wisconsin are the only two states that do not allow concealed carry. Washington, D.C. also has the same restriction in place. State Rep. Rich Brauer (R-Springfield) said the law has reduced crime rates in other states.

“If there would have been a problem, they would have made it illegal in their states,” Brauer said.

Banning concealed carry goes against the Second Amendment and infringes on citizens’ constitutional rights, he added.

On the contrary, the Illinois Council against Handgun Violence welcomed Thursday’s results.

“We’ll go against the trend as long as we can,” said Colleen Daley, executive director at the council.

She said the council’s studies do not show concealed carry reduces gun violence.

State Rep. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), who voted against the bill, agrees putting more guns in the community is not the solution.

“By definition, the easier to carry guns, the more opportunities people will have to shoot each other,” Biss said. “The huge percentage of gunshot deaths and injuries in this country are not incurred by criminals the victim doesn’t know but rather people who are in the same families, in the neighborhood where people know one another.”

Biss acknowledged illegal gun possession is a huge problem in Illinois. He introduced a bill on May 4 that would revoke the registration of vehicles used in gun trafficking crimes.

“It basically gives law enforcement officers one more tool to deal with gun traffickers,” Biss said.

Currently, Illinois punishes individuals involved in gun trafficking, but Biss said the new bill would suspend the registration of vehicles involved in gunrunning – the illegal transport of three or more firearms. Biss said he is confident the bill will pass.

However, he acknowledged gun trafficking is a complex problem that needs multiple solutions.

“Nothing works by itself,” he said. “What we need to do is to have simultaneously a network of all sorts of pressure on people and a robust toolkit given to our law enforcement officials. This is just one small arrow.”

Evanston Police Cmdr. Tom Guenther declined to comment on either bill but said the department would follow what is passed in the legislature.

Northwestern students are divided over the issue of concealed carry.

Medill freshman Shayna Starr said the bill would help to protect citizens against gun violence.

“If someone is constantly put in danger, then having a concealed weapon is a means of protection and should be allowed,” Starr said.

But Weinberg freshman Sabrina Koval said the bill would only increase the number of shootings she frequently heard about growing up in Chicago.

“If guns are illegal now and that’s how bad it is, more people are going to resort to gun violence to solve their problems (if concealed carry passes),” Koval said.

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