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Conceal-carry: Heeding court, Illinois becomes 50th state to allow it

Both chambers of the Illinois legislature on Tuesday overrode a veto on the matter by Gov. Pat Quinn. About 300,000 residents could apply for conceal-carry permits, although some details of the law have to be worked out first.

By Staff writer / July 10, 2013

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn speaks during a news conference Wednesday, in Chicago.

M. Spencer Green/AP

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Chicago

Illinois became the final state to allow gun owners to carry concealed firearms in public. The Tuesday vote in both chambers of the state legislature overrode a veto by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who pushed for tougher restrictions on where concealed weapons are allowed, among other measures.

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The vote now sets in motion a six-month period for state police officials and the legislature to determine permitting procedure, as well as make clarifications to the law such as exactly where guns are banned or what defines proper concealment.

It will cost about $25 million to establish and operate a system that will process conceal-carry applications, Illinois State Police say. About 300,000 residents are expected to apply.

Governor Quinn had tried to get lawmakers to prohibit concealed weapons in establishments that serve alcohol. That was struck down, along with his proposal to limit to one the number of handguns a person could carry simultaneously.

As the law stands, private property owners, along with businesses, can prohibit concealed guns on their premises, although rules for obtaining the proper signage are not yet established. Also, guns will not be allowed in schools, libraries, parks, and mass-transit buses and trains.

The bill is the result of a ruling last December by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago saying that the existing ban on conceal-carry weaponry in public was unconstitutional. The state was given 180 days to craft a law legalizing conceal-carry. That deadline passed June 9, but the state was given a 30-day extension to pass the law.

If the state had not acted by Tuesday, default legislation would have taken hold, but up until the deadline, the state was allowed to impose certain restrictions.

Some lawmakers criticized Quinn for waiting until the 11th hour to veto the bill because they said more time would have allowed for a more productive debate on the issue.

Quinn released a statement late Tuesday that the legislature “surrendered to the National Rifle Association ... and passed a flawed bill ....” He added, “Public safety should never be compromised or negotiated away.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as Quinn, used a recent surge in violence in the city – 74 people were wounded and 12 killed by gun violence over the four-day Fourth of July weekend – to say that more, not less, gun restrictions are necessary.

“Having effective gun control is essential for providing safety throughout the city,” he told reporters Tuesday.

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