Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Concealed carry advances

By Jamey Dunn

On the day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on a challenge to Chicago’s handgun ban, an Illinois House committee approved a bill that would let residents carry concealed firearms.

The committee passed House Bill 6249 today with only one member voting against it.

The sponsor of the measure Rep. John Bradley, a Marion Democrat, called today a “very important day for gun owners.”

Bradley said his proposal creates “stringent” requirements for a concealed carry license that would be regulated by the Illinois State Police. He reassured committee members that allowing citizens to carry guns would not turn Illinois into “the wild West.”

The bill requires those seeking a license to be 21 years old, attend training and pass an exam and a background check that would look for any criminal activities and history of mental illness or addiction.

The proposal makes exemptions for locations such as churches, schools and bars but would allow guns on college campuses.

Rep. Julie Hamos, an Evanston Democrat, cast the only opposition vote. She said the logic behind the exemptions - that it might be unsafe or inappropriate to carry firearms in such places - is how those opposed to the bill feel about people carrying guns on the streets of their communities.

“I am mystified by these exemptions. … To me they are in fact a major concession by the proponents that people who carry concealed guns, weapons, are inherently unsafe,” she said.

However, Hamos added that she thinks the U.S. Supreme Court’s eventual decision on the Chicago case may force some legislators to reevaluate hard-line stances on gun issues.

“[The National Rifle Association] lobbies us, so we say, ‘I am for it because the NRA is for it’ or ‘I am against it because the NRA is for it.’ That’s not going to be the future. The future is going to be to really think about what is reasonable.”

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