Concealed carry of guns goes before Illinois House

2013-02-26T05:00:00Z Concealed carry of guns goes before Illinois HouseThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 26, 2013 5:00 am  • 

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House will break down the issue of carrying concealed firearms into more than two dozen votes in a seldom-used process beginning Tuesday.

House Speaker Michael Madigan is using the so-called weekly order of business to allow lawmakers to submit amendments to a gun-control bill he intentionally left blank. That allows legislators to go on the record as voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on controversial pieces of an issue that has pitted urban Democrats against their colleagues downstate.

Lawmakers added 27 such amendments on Monday. Among the most divisive are competing provisions that would either require Illinois to issue concealed-carry permits to anyone who meets specific criteria or to allow local law enforcement the final say.

A Madigan spokesman said the debate would begin Tuesday but continue at various times in the coming days or weeks.

The state has been ordered by the federal courts to adopt a concealed-carry law by June 9. Illinois is the only state that still bans concealed weapons, which the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December was unconstitutional.

“One thing I’m happy with is we’re having this discussion. I think they know the courts mean business,” said Rep. Brandon Phelps. The southern Illinois Democrat, unlike some more liberal Democrats in urban settings such as Chicago, wants to require the state to issue permits to anyone who meets minimum requirements such as passing a background check and takes training courses.

Madigan is a Democrat from Chicago, where rampant gun violence is a deeply rooted worry and tighter restrictions are generally favored more than in downstate areas. Although Democrats hold a solid majority in the Illinois House, which Madigan leads, the party is largely divided on gun-control issues between urban anti-gun liberals and southern Illinois moderates and conservatives who hold the Second Amendment dearly.

The speaker’s approach allows political protection, said Kent Redfield, a former House staff member and retired political scientist at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

A comprehensive “clean bill,” such as one Phelps has introduced, would require a single yes or no, without nuances that can be explained away at election time. Redfield said the Madigan process allows Democrats, who understand the state must adopt gun legislation, to nonetheless vote against provisions they find particularly distasteful and politically risky.

“An up-or-down vote on a clean bill, you either voted for or against,” he said. “If you allow a bunch of votes, then people can be on specific roll calls for specific provisions and he can give them some cover” from outraged voters.

Gun-rights supporters have been in the driver’s seat since the federal court ruling in December. And on Friday, the appeals court refused Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s plea for a rehearing. That leaves the Democrat, the speaker’s daughter, the option of seeking U.S. Supreme Court review, a decision she has yet to make.

In 2011, long before the court ruling, Phelps narrowly lost a concealed-carry vote in the House. He’s introduced similar legislation this year that has lured 46 co-sponsors. He acknowledged Monday that he would prefer his bill get a vote on the House floor, but said he understood the House speaker’s reasoning.

“He wants to give everybody a fair debate and see who wins,” Phelps said.

Phelps is carrying the crucial amendment that would make Illinois a “shall issue” state, meaning any applicant who passes background checks and takes training courses would be granted a conceal-carry permit.

Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Chicago, has submitted the counter amendment that would create a “may issue” procedure, in which law enforcement officials could choose not to honor a permit application. Zalewski did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. Ishmael
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    Ishmael - February 26, 2013 6:52 pm
    "... or shut up." - justaguy2

    I applaud the fact you are aware of the existence of a 2nd Amendment and a process for altering the Constitution. However, you're probably going to be surprised to learn of the existence of the 1st Amendment.

    "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, ... "
  2. justaguy2
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    justaguy2 - February 26, 2013 5:22 pm
    If a group of people dont like something in the constitution there is an amendment process in place to alter it. the President (not even this one) can do it on his own. Its not a "living document" to be twisted, altered and interpretted to suit your desires. The new found "elections have consequences" mantra cant alter it either. Go through the amendment process and change it right, or shut up.
  3. justaguy2
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    justaguy2 - February 26, 2013 5:16 pm
    way too long
  4. Ishmael
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    Ishmael - February 26, 2013 1:52 pm
    "Sounds like another biased researcher." - Gillsburgher

    He's biased because he's not comparing gun deaths to the deaths you want him to? Do you frequently compare apples to oranges, too? Gun deaths, swimming pool deaths, car deaths, etc, etc are all separate issues with separate solutions.

    Let the research happen so solutions based on real data can be found.
  5. Gillsburgher
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    Gillsburgher - February 26, 2013 12:58 pm
    Sounds like another biased researcher.

    Let's see, what my chances of dying from a swimming pool at my home. Zero. How much greater is the risk of dying in a pool does my neighbor who has a swimming pool? Infinite.

    People are greatly confused between safety and security, and I will add suicide. A firearm is safer (accidental deaths per unit) than a swimming pool, a flight of stairs, and certainly a car. Security requires a specific action known to cause illegal death to another. Firearms are a security threat only when handled by a criminal. Firearms is one of many choices of suicide, by far, the most favorite choice of suicide is by cigarettes.

    If one's objective is to save lives ("We really need to find out what works, so that we can save more lives.), then ban cigarettes, multi-story buildings, swimming pools, cleaning supplies, cars, and operating rooms, and certainly require passing through a scale to be allowed to check out at the grocery store. But the objective is not now, nor has it ever been about saving lives. It is about creating greater dependency on the government, giving more power to a few elitists.

  6. Ishmael
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    Ishmael - February 26, 2013 10:44 am
    Here's an interesting interview, imo, with Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who led the agency's gun violence research in the nineties when he was the director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

    "President Obama has directed the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence as part of his legislative package on gun control. The CDC hasn't pursued this kind of research since 1996 when the National Rifle Association lobbied Congress to cut funding for it, arguing that the studies were politicized and being used to promote gun control. We've interviewed Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who led the agency's gun violence research in the nineties when he was the director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

    We talked to Rosenberg about the work the agency was doing before funding was cut and how it's relevant to today's gun control debate. Here's an edited transcript.

    There's been coverage recently about how Congress cut funding for gun violence research, but not much about what the agency was actually researching and what it was finding. You were in charge of that. Tell us a little bit about what the CDC was doing back then.

    There were basically four questions that we were trying to answer. The first question is what is the problem? Who were the victims? Who was killed? Who were injured? Where did they happen? Under what circumstances? When? What times of the year? What times of the day? What was the relationship to other events? How did they happen? What were the weapons that were used? What was the relationship between the people involved? What was the motive or the setting in which they happened?

    The second question is what are the causes? What are the things that increase one's risk of being shot? What are the things that decrease one's risk of being shot?

    The third question we were trying to answer is what works to prevent these? What kinds of policies, what kinds of interventions, what kinds of police practices or medical practices or education and school practices actually might prevent some of these shootings? We're not just looking at mass shootings, but also looking at the bulk of the homicides that occur every year and the suicides, which account for a majority of all gun deaths.

    Then the last question is how do you do it? Once you have a program or policy that has been proven to work in one place, how do you spread it? How do you actually put it in place?

    So what were you were able to find before funding got cut off?

    One of the critical studies that we supported was looking at the question of whether having a firearm in your home protects you or puts you at increased risk. This was a very important question because people who want to sell more guns say that having a gun in your home is the way to protect your family.

    What the research showed was not only did having a firearm in your home not protect you, but it hugely increased the risk that someone in your family would die from a firearm homicide. It increased the risk almost 300 percent, almost three times as high.

    It also showed that the risk that someone in your home would commit suicide went up. It went up five-fold if you had a gun in the home. These are huge, huge risks, and to just put that in perspective, we look at a risk that someone might get a heart attack or that they might get a certain type of cancer, and if that risk might be 20 percent greater, that may be enough to ban a certain drug or a certain product.

    But in this case, we're talking about a risk not 20 percent, not 100 percent, not 200 percent, but almost 300 percent or 500 percent. These are huge, huge risks.

    I understand there was also an effort to collect data on gun violence through something called the Firearm Injury Surveillance System. What did that involve?

    We were collecting information to answer the question of who, what, where, when, and how did shootings occur?

    We were finding that most homicides occur between people who know each other, people who are acquaintances or might be doing business together or might be living together. They're not stranger-on-stranger shootings. They're not mostly home intrusions.

    We also found that there were a lot of firearm suicides, and in fact most firearm deaths are suicides. There were a lot of young people who were impulsive who were using guns to commit suicide.

    So if you were able to continue this work, what kind of data do you think would be available today?

    I think we'd know much more information about what sorts of weapons are used in what sorts of firearm deaths and injuries.

    Let's say you look at robbery associated homicides, and you find that in those homicides certain weapons are used in almost all of them and that these weapons come from a limited number of sources and that those weapons are not used by people to defend their home or to hunt or to target shoot. Then you can say, "Here's a type of weapon that seems to be only used in criminal enterprises and doesn't seem to have any legitimate uses, and maybe we ought to find a way to restrict the sales or access to that type of weapon."

    I think it's also important to look at what the impact of these data might be.

    If you look at how many deaths have occurred between 1996, when there was this disruption to surveillance and research, and now, so that's 16 years, and if you assume that there are about 30,000 gun deaths every year, you're talking about 480,000 gun deaths over that period of time.

    If even a fraction of those deaths could have been prevented, you're talking about a significant impact in terms of saving lives.

    Lawmakers are now trying to figure out what the most effective policies might be to curb gun violence, and how to implement them. What were you beginning to find on that?

    The largest question in this category is what kind of larger policies work? Does it work, for example, if you have an assault weapon ban? Does that reduce the number of firearm injuries and deaths? In truth, we don't know the answer to that. That requires evaluation.

    Does gun licensing and registration work to reduce firearm injuries and death? We don't have the answer.

    The policies that make it easier to carry concealed weapons, do those reduce or do those increase firearm injuries and deaths? We don't have the answer. Do gun bans like they have in the city of Chicago, work? We don't have the answer yet to those.

    These require large-scale studies of large numbers of people, over a long period of time to see if they work or don't.

    I don't think those studies were fully funded or completed.

    How do you think the gun control debate might be different today, if you had been allowed to continue that research?

    I would like to think that we would have had answers to what works and what doesn't work. I would hope that we know whether the kind of bans and restrictions that they have in Chicago really make a difference or don't. I would hope that we would have had information about whether an assault weapon ban saves lives or doesn't. Unfortunately, when you don't have those data that really show you, scientifically, whether or not something works, then you end up with people making statements like the following, "Obviously, the assault weapon ban didn't work, because Columbine happened."

    That's kind of like saying, "Vaccines don't work because someone got the flu."

    The Obama administration is asking Congress for $10 million to pursue gun-related research. If you had that budget and you had your old job, what would you use the money to look at?

    I think we'd want to look at what the impact of different policies would be, both restricting and enabling policies.

    The other thing that I would make sure we looked at is not just how do we prevent firearm injuries, but how do we also protect the rights of legitimate gun owners? I think it would be very important to look, for example, at legislation that restricts access by certain people to firearms.

    People often think that there are maybe three things we should consider passing right now, something like an assault weapons ban, a ban on large capacity magazines, and background checks on all gun purchasers.

    The truth is that there's not going to be a simple, magic pill or even three pills that cure the whole problem. If you look at suicides and the whole range of homicides and firearm injuries, the answers are going to come, bit by bit, over time, incrementally.

    It's not one, two or even three things that are really going to solve the problem. They may solve our conscience, but they won't solve the problem. The research is really, really important. We really need to find out what works, so that we can save more lives.

    It's been presented to people that research is going to hurt legitimate gun owners. That's the threat and how the NRA leadership has often presented it to the NRA membership. "Any sort of research is only going to result in your losing all your guns."

    That's a tactic of fear. It's not at all the case. There are things we can do that will both reduce firearm injuries and protect the legitimate rights of gun owners and protect the children and their families."
  7. Gillsburgher
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    Gillsburgher - February 26, 2013 7:38 am
    The approach of voting on each piece is a good idea. I wish they (and Congress) would do more of that. If they did, we would not be seeing fishery studies in Alaska funded out of Hurricane Sandy money and we would see a far better secured southern border.
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