Bill lets Illinois cities restrict places for guns
SPRINGFIELD – An Illinois senator seeking to keep some restrictions on concealed guns in place after a federal judge found the state's ban unconstitutional said Tuesday that his compromise plan would allow large cities to customize their lists of places that are off limits to otherwise legally carried weapons.
Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat, told The Associated Press that cities would be able to designate unique locales, such as a cherished landmark or a park that draws scores of children, as gun-free zones above and beyond what restrictions would be put into a law allowing public possession of firearms.
Raoul said that a community could have a "sensitive place" not recognized by a state law as not appropriate for people carrying weapons. But the Chicago Democrat predicted there wouldn't be a great demand for such localized additions because a state law would likely carry a lengthy list of off-limits spots, from schools to sports stadiums.
"They would have to get pretty creative to think of something additional," Raoul said. "It's sort of a security blanket to some who are just nervous about concealed carry generally."
He dismissed the idea that a local government could declare the entire city limits as gun free, saying "that would be quickly struck down" by a judge.
The National Rifle Association opposes the idea and continues to reject a separate plan by Raoul to require people who want to carry a gun in Chicago to get a special "endorsement" from Chicago police.
"The idea of concealed carry is to carry a gun so you have the ability to defend yourself against somebody trying to do something bad to you," Vandermyde said. "The problem is, they (opponents) don't want you to carry a gun any place where there's people. We're not accepting any local control over this stuff."
Lawmakers have struggled to reach agreement on a concealed carry measure ordered by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which decreed in December that Illinois' last-in-the-nation ban on allowing people to carry concealed weapons on the street is unconstitutional.
Raoul was criticized last month when he floated his initial proposal, which called for the Illinois State Police to approve concealed-carry permits throughout the state, but for those wanting to tote guns in Cook County or Chicago, to get an additional "endorsement" from authorities in those jurisdictions.
Raoul said he dropped the Cook County requirement because suburban lawmakers worried about the number of cities that lie partly in Cook County and partly in a suburban county.
Allowing people to carry concealed weapons has its restrictions, even in a pending House bill backed by the National Rifle Association. Raoul's proposal would prohibit carrying guns in government buildings, schools, taverns, sports arenas, amusement parks, hospitals, libraries, public transportation, jails and more.
"There are those who are concerned that there may be a sensitive place in their part of the state that isn't recognized by our proposed state law," said Raoul, who, asked about examples of places, said he hadn't heard of many.
The plan, which he said might get a committee hearing this week, would allow so-called "home-rule units" — generally, cities and counties with 25,000 or more population — to designate additional places.
Illinois has more than 200 home-rule communities. State police would develop a system for notifying concealed carry permit applicants if their city has special restrictions and signs would be posted onsite, such as around a prohibited park, Raoul said.
But gun-rights supporters still believe a concealed-carry law should be as standardized as possible for the sake of clarity, as well as constitutionality.
"There should be one, uniform law statewide ... because if you allow municipalities and counties to do their own ordinances, from town to town to town, that law-abiding gun owner is not going to know between one town and another," said Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Harrisburg Democrat sponsoring the House gun measure.
Contact AP Political Writer John O'Connor at https://www.twitter.com/apoconnor