The ink barely is dry on Illinois’ concealed carry law, and state legislators already are champing at the bit to change some rules that govern where and how Illinoisans may tote concealed weapons.
Illinois last year became the last state in the country to allow concealed carry of firearms. The law prohibits guns in schools, day cares, courthouses, on public transportation, in sports stadiums and in businesses where alcohol sales make up more than 50 percent of the receipts.
Illinoisans were able to begin filing applications for concealed carry permits in January, and the first ones could be issued sometime this spring.
But, according to a story last week in Decatur’s Herald & Review newspaper, several Illinois lawmakers already want to make changes to the law, some to ease restrictions and others to tighten them.
Can we hit the pause button and take some time to see if Illinois’ relatively young rules, which were just recently signed into law after months of negotiation and tweaking in the legislature, work as written?
Illinois’ concealed carry law hasn’t had a chance to be tested, primarily because no Illinoisans have been issued concealed carry permits yet. And that means no one knows yet where any potential problems, loopholes or gaps lie.
State Rep. Bill Mitchell, a Republican from Forsyth, wants to reduce the training requirements for those seeking a concealed carry permit from 16 hours to eight hours. His proposal also would eliminate the rule that requires permit-holders to retrain for three hours every five years when they seek to renew their permit. He also wants to allow permit-holders from other states to carry in Illinois under certain conditions.
Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, wants to clarify “vague” language in the rules regarding weapons in places where people are gambling and consuming alcohol.
And Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, wants to prohibit concealed carry on privately owned property where there is not a sign explicitly allowing it. He said the state’s new concealed carry law is “complex legislation” that people will have to “see if this is right for Illinois.”
State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, who was instrumental in getting the law passed and was chief sponsor of the legislation, urged his colleagues to take a deep breath.
“This is monumental legislation,” he told the Herald & Review. “Let’s let it go into effect and see what it’s like before we try to change it.”
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It’s unclear if any of the proposed changes will go anywhere in the legislature anytime soon, but it is troubling that lawmakers aren’t giving the law more time to be tested.
Making changes to concealed carry rules without first taking some time to see how the law works does a disservice to the legislative process and to those who worked so hard on both sides of the concealed carry issue to negotiate a bill that was as palatable as possible to everyone.
It’s OK for lawmakers and the public to be patient.
— GateHouse Media Illinois