Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

December 17, 2012

Closer Look: Ill. faces hard choices with gun law



It's possible that gun control advocates will seek to propose an alternative bill to Phelps', one that would have the backing of Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who are both vocal gun control advocates.

Illinois is the last state in the nation that bans concealed carry. The appellate court ruling, which gave lawmakers the 180-day deadline, was a major victory for gun rights activists who had vowed to make the state and its ban the center of the national gun control debate. They believe the ruling now gives them broad leeway to craft a bill without tough restrictions.

In four other states — Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Vermont — residents are not required to have any permit at all to carry a concealed weapon.

Most states, 36 in all, are required to issue concealed carry permits if applicants meet certain criteria that can include background checks and training requirements.

By contrast, nine states, including New York and California, allow residents to obtain concealed carry permits but only after law enforcement officials approve. Those stricter state laws have the support of gun control advocates.

In New York, the law requires that residents show a "special need for self-protection," and a simple desire for a gun or concerns about living in a high-crime area is not a good enough reason to carry a gun. The law was upheld last month by a different federal appeals court.

In California, the decision on who can get a permit is left up to the local sheriff's office. Gun rights advocates grumble about that, citing statistics showing it far easier to get permits in rural counties than in more-populated urban counties.

What gun-rights advocates' new bill probably won't look like, Phelps said, is the one that he tried unsuccessfully to push through last year with lots of concessions. He said it is unlikely he and other gun-rights proponents will settle for anything nearly as restrictive as the California and New York laws.

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