With the status of the state's new concealed carry law still in limbo, Sheriff Tom Dart has proposed a new ordinance he hopes will keep Cook County from becoming the “Wild West” when it comes to firearms.
Dart's proposed ordinance would exclude Cook County once the state-wide ban on concealed carry is lifted but would take effect only if lawmakers failed to get a new law on the books by the summer deadline, the Associated Press reports.
“I was in Springfield for 11 years,” Dart told the Sun-Times in reference to his time as a state lawmaker. “Deadlines sometimes don’t mean anything. We have to be prepared in the event something does not get done.”
Despite the looming deadline, pro-gun lawmakers downstate and assemblymen from the Chicago metro area in favor stricter gun rules have repeatedly deadlocked on the issue.
According to the Belleville News-Democrat, gun-rights supporters say if the legislature doesn't agree on a new law by the June 9 deadline, "constitutional carry" would take effect, allowing the carrying of guns in public with almost no restrictions.
“We would have the Wild West,” Dart said, according to the Sun-Times. “There would be no regulation.”
Under the proposed ordinance, Dart would have the authority to approve or reject licenses of citizens wanting to carry concealed weapons, the AP reports. Licenses would also come with a $300 fee.
While the whole of Chicago is ensconced in the limits of Cook County, the Daily Herald notes Dart's proposal could be a problem in surrounding suburban towns like Barrington, Elgin or Hanover Park which are only partly in the county; the dividing lines could mean different gun laws in different parts of town — or on different sides of a street.
"If somebody's at the Shell Gas Station on Lake-Cook Road and they're getting gas and they're a law-abiding citizen and they have a firearm on them, in accordance with the concealed carry law, they walk across the street 50 feet to Dunkin' Donuts...now they could be a felon," GOP state Sen. Dan Duffy said of Barrington, which is divided between Cook and Lake counties.
Dart said he would issue permits to citizens who could demonstrate a need for one, citing several examples of elderly couples in the south suburbs who had been repeated victims of break-ins; a license would be harder to come by for someone unable to prove a specific need for a gun.
A federal appeals court ruled the state's ban on concealed firearms unconstitutional last December. On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to give Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan an extension on the deadline to file an appeal to the federal court's ruling.