Illinois debates keeping gun owners' identities secret
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants to make public all registered firearm owners through the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Opponents say public disclosure could increase crime.
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While similar measures have failed in previous attempts in Illinois and Wisconsin, advocates say the political climate has changed following the US Supreme Court’s decision last summer allowing handguns in the home for self-protection.Skip to next paragraph
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That ruling forced Chicago to revise its handgun ordinance so it could stand up to scrutiny in federal court. The revised ordinance established a multi-tier process for gun owners to own their weapons in the city, which includes registering their firearms with local authorities and obtaining a special city permit in addition to the state license. Each handgun needs to be reregistered every year.
The proposed conceal carry law was criticized by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley last week. In a letter sent to state representatives that was co-signed by Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, Daley urged lawmakers to strike down the bill, saying its passage would increase crime and threaten law enforcement and public safety.
“This bill must be defeated,” Daley told reporters last week. “Allowing concealed handguns in Illinois can turn the simplest everyday activities into dangerous situations.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that it is common for Illinois handgun owners to travel to Utah and Florida to apply for concealed carry permits since those states have reciprocal agreements with dozens of other states.
Although statistics are not available on how many Illinois handgun owners take advantage of the out-of-state permitting, Illinois State Rifle Association Director Richard Pearson said the trend is “at least six or seven times more popular” than it was two years ago.
The practice is widespread enough that it has led to a cottage industry involving out-of-state experts on state laws who provide classes on gun safety and legal issues in Illinois, then take permit applications back to their home state for filing. Gun owners in Illinois are also invited to apply for the out-of-state permits online or by conventional mail.
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