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Our View: Be ready for concealed-weapons law

Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 9:39 a.m.CDT • Updated: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 9:40 a.m.CDT

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has until July 9 to do something with the concealed-carry legislation sitting on his desk.

The law would allow residents with a valid FOID card who pay a $150 nonrefundable application fee to the Illinois State Police – the fee is $300 for nonresidents – to receive a permit. Applicants must also complete a 16-hour training course. The license is good for five years, and a three-hour refresher course will be required for renewal.

Concealed carry would not be allowed on mass transit, in schools and college campuses, government buildings and courthouses, parks, stadiums, hospitals and street festivals. It would be allowed in restaurants and other businesses that serve alcohol only if alcohol makes up less than half of their total sales.

The bill also makes it a crime to carry a concealed weapon while intoxicated. Businesses have the right to forbid concealed weapons from their premises if they post a sign banning them.

Quinn has not said whether he will sign the bill into law. When and if he does, however, he starts the clock on Illinois’ municipalities, which will have 10 days to decide whether to establish a ban on assault weapons in their communities. Not doing so would mean municiplaties forfeit the opportunity to enact one later.

Ten days is not a lot of time to make such a decision. Municipalities should be proactive and start these discussions now. Resident input should be sought, as they deserve to have a voice in the discussion.

Quinn can help this process. Yes, Quinn has urged Attorney General Lisa Madigan to appeal the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that Illinois’ ban on the carrying concealed weapons is unconstitutional. And if he signs the bill, an appeal is thrown out the window.

The reality is that concealed carry is coming to Illinois. An appeal likely is futile and wastes money the state doesn’t have. Quinn can help municipalities by announcing his intention to sign the bill sooner rather than later, but not signing it until the last possible minute.

Doing so would give municipalities more than the 10 days they would have after the bill is signed to decide on assault weapons bans. More time means more meaningful discussion.

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