SPRINGFIELD — —
Illinois would become the last state in the nation to allow the public possession of concealed firearms with a bill approved Friday by the state Legislature.
A 89-28 vote by the Illinois House on Friday —the last day before lawmakers adjourn their spring session— sealed a hard-fought compromise worked out after a federal appeals court ordered in December that Illinois drop its ban by June 9.
The legislation now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat who has not indicated whether he'll sign it.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that Illinois' ban on the public possession of concealed weapons is unconstitutional. All 49 other states allow concealed carry, though some have stricter regulations than others.
Illinois' compromise measure reflected the division between gun rights advocates across the state and gun control supporters in Chicago, which is battling a surge in gang violence and murders since last year.
An early proposal to allow for concealed carry sought to eliminate all local gun ordinances, including Chicago's ban on assault weapons. But that provision was opposed by Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other Chicago Democrats.
The negotiated settlement approving concealed carry would allow local governments to retain their own rules. But it would block them from creating new rules for transporting guns and assault weapons restrictions.
Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat and supporter of tighter restrictions, conceded ground on carrying guns in establishments that serve alcohol. Residents would be allowed to carry guns into restaurants and other business that serve alcohol if liquor comprises no more than 50 percent of their sales.
Chicago Democrats would have gotten all of what they requested in terms of specific gun-free zones, including mass transit buses and trains, schools, other government buildings, parks, hospitals and street festivals.
But Rep. Brandon Phelps, a southern Illinois Democrat who sponsored the House proposal, was able to keep in a provision making automobiles a "safe harbor" — meaning a secured gun could be kept in a car, even if it's parked in a prohibited place.