SPRINGFIELD — Illinoisans shouldn’t have to undergo as much training or pay as much to get a permit to carry loaded weapons in public, one state lawmaker says.
State Rep. Bill Mitchell, a Forsyth Republican, has introduced a package of legislation aimed at easing some of the restrictions that will be in place once the state’s concealed carry law goes into effect next year.
The proposed changes were introduced less than a month after the General Assembly overrode Gov. Pat Quinn’s amendatory veto of a law that would bring Illinois in line with the rest of the nation when it comes to concealed carry.
“The is a Second Amendment right,” Mitchell said. “Why should the State of Illinois set the bar so high?”
Illinois State Police officials currently are in the process of establishing a system in which qualified gun owners can undergo background checks and training en route to getting a permit.
The state may pick a vendor to help operate the new system any day now. In all, eight vendors specializing in database management and software submitted offers to the state police. The cost of hiring one of the companies is not yet known, said agency spokeswoman Monique Bond.
State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, who sponsored the new law, said he agrees with what Mitchell is trying to do, but believes the timing is wrong.
“We need to get the program up and running and prove it can work,” Phelps said.
Under the law, a permit good for five years will cost $150. The fee is based on what the state police believe it will cost to operate the program.
Mitchell, however, says applicants should only have to pay $100 for the permit.
“There are people who think the fees are prohibitive for middle class people,” Mitchell said.
The law also calls for people to undergo 16 hours of training to receive a permit and another three hours to renew a permit. Mitchell said applicants should only have to undergo eight hours of training to get a permit and none to renew a permit.
The central Illinois Republican also has introduced legislation that would allow out-of-state residents carry concealed weapons in Illinois if they have a permit from their home state.
Mitchell’s proposal isn’t the only one that has surfaced since the law was approved.
State Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat who favors tighter gun restrictions, wants to ban concealed weapons from churches.
“There is probably going to be a lot of this on both sides,” Phelps said. “I would doubt these bills will see the light of day anytime soon.”
Mitchell didn’t disagree.
“This is just the start of the debate,” he said.
The legislation is House Bills 3649, 3650 and 3651.
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