The Democratic-controlled Illinois Senate shot down a concealed carry bill that passed in the House last week and advanced their own revised version instead as a June 9 deadline to craft a new state gun law looms.
The move sets up a showdown between the two chambers with just days until a court-mandated deadline on the new law expires.
"Nobody wants us to not do anything and the federal court ruling take effect and thereby allow ‘constitutional carry,'" John Sullivan, a Rushville Democrat, said according to the Quincy-Herald Whig.
Under constitutional carry, anybody would be allowed to carry firearms without the need for training and with no locations exempted.
A key difference between the House bill sponsored by Benton Democrat Sen. Gary Forby and the more restrictive Senate-approved version sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat, is the impact the law would have on local gun control ordinances.
“I recognize some folks don’t see this as a big deal, but to preempt every local government from enacting any law or ordinance relating to firearms...is a pretty dramatic risk,” said Democratic Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park.
Under Raoul's version of the law, local gun ordinances unrelated to concealed carry — such as Chicago’s assault weapons ban — would remain intact, according to the Peoria Journal-Star.
Before his version of the bill was defeated, Forby argued Raoul's plan would create a confusing patchwork of laws across the state.
“Let’s make everybody in the state of Illinois equal," Forby said according to the Journal-Star. "This is not a town bill. This is not a county bill. It’s a statewide bill so everybody in the state understands what’s going on. And the way local control is, nobody will know what’s going on.”
Another difference between the two bills is that Raoul's version would restrict carrying guns in any business that serves alcohol; Phelps' bill would banish certain gun control laws such as the ban on ownership of civilian versions of military-style weapons.
Senate President John Cullerton has said allowing local municipalities like Chicago to keep their own laws on the books was essential to reaching a compromise in time, the Tribune reports. Though Democratic Rep. Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg said Raoul's bill would not pass the House, the two sides are striving to reach a middle ground before the General Assembly wraps its spring session at midnight on Friday.