Story URL:
Story Retrieval Date: 4/17/2015 11:51:54 AM CST

Top Stories

Mackenzie Allen/MEDILL

As the deadline for gun legislation gets closer without a broadly supported bill many wonder what will happen if a solution isn't reached.

A ticking clock on Illinois concealed carry

by Mackenzie Allen
May 21, 2013


Mackenzie Allen/MEDILL

Sen. Kwame Raoul's bill includes an endorsement from the Chicago Police Department for anyone wanting to carry a gun inside the city.


Mackenzie Allen/MEDILL

Riders board a bus at the intersection of State and Lake Streets in downtown Chicago. One of the issues being debated in Springfield is whether or not concealed weapons should be allowed on public transportation.


Mackenzie Allen/MEDILL

Mark Walsh of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence supports a more restrictive version of conceal carry legislation.


Mackenzie Allen/MEDILL

Handgun related murders in Chicago are down from their peak in the most recently available data.


Information compiled from the Chicago Police Department website.

Mackenzie Allen/MEDILL

Lindsay Nichols of the Law Center to Prevent Handgun Violence explains gun legislation that has been supported in other states.

Related Links

Michael Moore v. Lisa MadiganA may issue billA shall issue billThe Heller decision

Chicago gun violence statistics

 -In 2012 Chicago Police Department reported 2,460 shooting incidents, a 10 percent increase from 2011.

-In 2010 81 percent of Chicago murders involved a firearm.

-The percentage of gun-related aggravated assaults dropped 7.1 percent from 2009 to 2010.

-In 2010 the Chicago Police Department recovered 11, 242 guns, a 13.9 percent increase from 2009, through search and seizures and voluntary turn-in events.


Information gathered from the Chicago Police Department website.

Illinois is the only state that does not allow gun owners to carry a firearm outside of their home. On June 9 that is set to change.

The consequence of failing to act remains unclear, with some thinking that almost anyone will be able to carry a gun anywhere while others believe that local municipalities will be responsible for handling the issue.

There are currently 1.5 million active Firearm Owner Identification cards in the state, according to Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond.

The Illinois State Police estimate that 300,000 people will apply for a concealed carry permit once it becomes legal — and that establishing a task force to deal with concealed carry could cost $25 million.

A judicial mandate
Last December a federal court ruled that it is unconstitutional for Illinois to prohibit the carrying of firearms. This decision came after the 2008 Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller.

“The Heller decision involved a District of Columbia ordinance that banned handguns completely,” said Lindsay Nichols, an attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “It banned them in the home, it banned them outside of the home, everywhere.”

The Supreme Court ruled that there is a guaranteed right through the Second Amendment to firearms inside a home. 
Unfortunately, in answering one question, Heller created a slew of others.

“The court found for the first time that there is an individual right for a responsible person to possess a handgun in the home for purposes of self-defense,” Nichols said. “It’s been very unclear how far the holding would go and there has been a flood of litigation in the lower courts since that time challenging all sorts of gun laws.”

While Heller dealt with “the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home,” according to Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the issue his panel had before it was whether the Second Amendment guaranteed the right of self-defense outside of the home.

According to the court of appeals, it does.

“When a person needs a gun for self-defense, if it’s a responsible person and legal qualifications are met, they may have the right to have a gun,” Nichols said. 

Writing for the majority, Posner gave Illinois 180 days, until June 9, to pass legislation legalizing the carrying of firearms outside of the home.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has until June 24 to appeal the ruling, but has not decided if she will. “We are continuing to analyze the decision and monitor the legislative activity underway,” said Natalie Bauer, communications director for the attorney general.

“That 7th Circuit decision may still be appealed, but regardless of whether it’s appealed or not and regardless of the results of the appeal there is a deadline for the state of Illinois to enact a law,” Nichols said. 

Finding the right words

For months the state legislature has been working on concealed carry bills and in many cases the success of a bill has been based on one thing — whether the bill is “shall” legislation or “may” legislation. 

With may legislation, the issuing body, in this case the Illinois State Police, would take all of the relevant information into account and decide whether or not to issue a permit. With shall legislation the issuing body is compelled to issue a permit if all of the qualifications are met.

“There’s been sort of a recognized dichotomy between these two kinds of permitting schemes, but I think that there are many permitting schemes that fall in the middle,” Nichols said. 

Shall legislation is typically supported by the Illinois State Rifle Association, and may legislation is typically supported by the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. Both shall and may legislation has previously failed to make it out of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Though organizations like the Illinois State Rifle Association support legislation with fewer restrictions, as a whole they do support some form of regulation and training for a concealed carry permit, according to Executive Director Richard Pearson. 

Pearson wants a bill that establishes a reasonable cost and amount of training to qualify for a concealed carry permit. To him, a reasonable permit would cost less than $100 and require fewer than eight hours of training. 

“A lot of people have all kinds of crazy ideas about training,” Pearson said. “You’re really only trying to defend your life until the police get there, you’re not trying to be a policeman.” 

Don Haworth has carried a concealed weapon for 25 years as a private investigator and supports concealed carry for everyone that qualifies.

“I don’t have bodyguards, my friends don’t have bodyguards. I walk out of my backdoor and into the alley, who’s going to stop the attacker, the police or me?” said Haworth.

One of the pieces of legislation looking most likely to be successful is coming from state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago).

His bill, SB848 has shall wording but enough restrictions in place to satisfy the council against handgun violence. The rifle association does not support his bill. 

“People are getting caught up on this language, I think in the final analysis public safety has to be the top priority,” Raoul said.

One of the restrictions opposed by the rifle association in SB848 is the prohibition of guns on public transportation.

Knowing that many people in Chicago do not have a car and rely on either the CTA or Metra, Pearson does not believe firearms should be banned so long as they are in a locked case.

The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence supports taking that a step further and requiring that guns also be disassembled before being carried on public transit. 

“The fact of the matter is that a law-abiding gun owner on public transportation would be able to carry their gun in a secured case with the gun unassembled and unloaded just like you could if it was in your car,” said Mark Walsh, campaign director for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

Other gun-free zones would include schools, stadiums and anywhere alcohol is served.

“What the politicians are doing with this concealed carry is ridiculous,” Haworth said. “Once you outlaw a firearm in a certain place … that’s a slippery slope.”

Raoul’s bill would require applicants to state why they want a permit. 

“It’s officially a shall issue bill, it says the state police shall issue a license,” Raoul said. “But there are those from the NRA that believe that not withstanding the shall issue language, that the language of having to state a proper reason ... that that language in their eyes shifts it to a may issue.”

The bill stops short of an individual needing to prove a need for a gun in order to get a concealed carry permit as several states do.

According to Nichols, the legality of such a requirement has been upheld every time it has been challenged. Some of those states include New York, Maryland, Hawaii and New Jersey.

After passing through committee on May 16, the bill was scheduled to be voted on the next day, but has since been held back. It reportedly did not have the votes needed.

In order for the bill to pass the Senate, Raoul will need 30 votes. He has not yet said when he plans to bring his bill for a vote or if he will amend it first.

“Sen. Raoul, my conversation with him on Friday was that he still thought he would be able to pass something and didn’t want to have to bring a bill back that has failed once,” said Walsh. 

Walsh said that at this point his organization is re-evaluating Raoul’s bill while looking to see if something might come out of the House instead. 

What it means for Chicago

Another particularly contentious portion of the bill involves the issuing of permits for gun owners inside the city of Chicago. If someone plans to carry within city limits, they would need to indicate it on their application and the Chicago Police Department superintendent would need to approve it in addition to the state police. 

The requirement that CPD endorse concealed carry permits within the city of Chicago is based on a New York law.

“In the state of New York a person can get a permit outside of the city but if they want to carry inside New York City they have to get a special permit,” Nichols said.

Walsh said that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals repeatedly upholding New York’s law gives his organization hope that Chicago could legally do the same.

Due to the size, population density and number of people that travel to Chicago from outside the city, Raoul believes that it is in the best interest of public safety to give CPD the authority to review applications. 

The rifle association does not support this qualification. 

“Because [Chicago has] such tight gun laws is why you have such high violence, because a criminal will do anything he wants to,” Pearson said, adding that criminals know people in Chicago don’t have guns to defend themselves.

Camiela Williams grew up in Chicago’s South Side and is a strong advocate for stricter gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons. She supports Raoul’s bill, but would prefer concealed carry did not become legal in Chicago. She is primarily concerned about the easy access to guns that could happen as a result of concealed carry.

“If they legalize conceal carry in Chicago … I believe that it will be a war zone,” Williams said. “Guns will be more accessible to young people.”

A looming deadline

With less than two weeks before the state legislature adjourns for the summer, and only 18 days until the June 9 deadline, both sides remain confident that a bill will be passed.

Whether or not it will require a special legislative session is yet to be seen. 

“I think it would be in the best interest of the public that we have a statewide policy,” Raoul said.