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Lawmakers push concealed carry proposals

By Diane S.W. Lee  Illinois Statehouse News

SPRINGFIELD — After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a handgun ban in Chicago last year, lawmakers in Springfield started off the year by pushing to give people the right to carry concealed firearms in public.

Similar legislation has been defeated in the past, but lawmakers have not given up. Some lawmakers in both chambers have introduced a slew of proposals to expand gun ownership rights.

House Bill 112, House Bill 148 and Senate Bill 82 are similar pieces of legislation, all of which would allow the county sheriff to issue permits to authorize the possession of concealed firearms. Applicants for the permit must be at least 21 and meet certain requirements, such as completing classes and training for live-firing exercises.

Co-sponsor of SB 82, state Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Highland, said the majority of the people in his district support the right to carry firearms. He said the Supreme Court’s ruling made that clear.

“I think the courts rule for a reason,” McCarter said. “And now that they’ve ruled in the McDonald case, I think it is evident we should put this law into place just like 48 other states.”

McCarter was referring to McDonald v. Chicago, a case in which Otis McDonald and others challenged the city of Chicago’s prohibition on handgun registration and the requirement that guns be registered before the weapon could be acquired by Chicago residents. The case also challenged Chicago’s rule that required guns be re-registered each year with an annual fee and be permanently restricted from re-registration if the registration lapsed. The case was decided in McDonald’s favor by the Supreme Court on June 28.

Illinois and Wisconsin are the only two states that do not have concealed carry laws.

State Rep. Daniel Beiser, D-Alton, wants Illinois to join the other states to allow the right to bear arms.

The Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution provides that ”…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Beiser, co-sponsor of HB 148,  said he has been supportive of Second Amendment rights since he took office in 2004.

“Concealed carry to me is something that has been sorely needed in this state,” Beiser said. “The fact that we are one of two states that doesn’t have it just speaks volumes. And I believe that law-abiding citizens that are willing to go through the necessary steps that this bill will put in place, should be able to have a gun on themselves to take care of themselves in times when their safety is in peril.”

However, critics of concealed carry laws say easy access to firearms would lead to more violence, though no one was able to speak before a House panel on Tuesday because the bill was not called for debate.

Supporters don’t agree that concealed-carry laws equal more violence.

“Simply outlawing guns does not keep guns out of criminals hands and those that choose to break the law,” Beiser said.

State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, agreed.

“Guns don’t kill people,” Forby said. “People kill people.”

Forby, who is chief sponsor of SB 82, said people would need to go through extensive checks before getting permits for guns. Among other requirements, the proposed plan would require a full set of fingerprints and a color photograph of the person applying for the permit.

“It is not just going out there and giving people guns,” Forby said. “They got to go through tests and regulations to get this.”

Co-sponsor of HB 148, state Rep. Patrick Verschoore, D-Milan, said people in his district have shown strong support for a concealed carry law.

“Most of the hunters are for the concealed carry,” Verschoore said. “I have lawyers that have contacted me. I have doctors I shoot clay birds with that have contacted me and have asked me to support it. … I just think it is something that it is time we look at it, and if we have the votes — we’ll pass it.”

Originally reported by Illinois Statehouse News. Read the original article here.

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