A shot at concealed carry law

DeWayne Bartels
State Rep Mike Unes, R-East Peoria, left, is still hopeful concealed carry legislation can come up in the General Assembly before year’s end.

Another shot in November at passing legislation approving concealed carry in Illinois is what State Rep. Mike Unes, R-East Peoria, is hoping for.

Unes was appointed to co-chair the Firearm Public Awareness Task Force this past legislative session. The 23-member task force was created under the passage of House Resolution 550.

Duties and findings

The task force’s duties included analyzing data from states that have concealed carry laws with the specific intent to evaluate how the enactment of concealed carry would benefit public safety in Illinois.

“The task force has completed formal meetings. A final report is being written on our findings. My hope is (concealed carry) can be voted on this fall in the Veto Session,” Unes said.

Unes said he feels the report should have a positive spin concerning concealed carry.

“Even the staunchest critics had to conclude crime rates do not go up with concealed carry,” Unes said. “In fact, it makes bad guys think twice.”

House Bill 148, which Unes  offered last spring, as chief co-sponsor, was defeated in the House in a highly contested vote of 65-52-1, not receiving enough votes to meet the 71 votes needed to override home rule.

“HB 148 was more restrictive on concealed carry than any other laws in the nation,” Unes said.

“A concealed carry opponent from California testified that on training her state is one of the better states in that regard. She said HB 148 was even more restrictive on training than the California law.”

Political hardball

Unes said despite the lack of backing by Chicago legislators, he is still hopeful his effort will eventually succeed.

“My hope is Chicago legislators can see this is an honest report and see people of 48 other states can’t all be wrong,” Unes said.

 But, he admits he faces an uphill battle against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, a Democrat.

“I would say Mayor Emanuel is as opposed to concealed carry as Mayor (Richard) Daley was. It’s been made clear to the legislature by Madigan that it will take 71 votes ayes to pass, instead of 60,” Unes said.

“Chicago legislators will be lobbied hard. The last vote it went to 68 votes before falling back to 65.”

Unes said the 71 vote rule is designed to make passage of the law harder.

“This law will take 71 votes because it pre-empts home rule. But, we’ve had other rules that pre-empted home rule and did not take 71 votes. We’ll work to get there. Seventy-one is what’s needed to override a governor’s veto anyway.”

Unes said despite Chicago’s restrictive gun laws, the illegal gun crime problem there is exploding, giving credence to the need for concealed carry by law-abiding citizens.

“I’m not giving up,” Unes said. “We have proof (concealed carry) works in other states.”

 Asked if he felt his hope to see concealed carry come up in November was a realistic one, Unes said he does not know.

“I can’t predict what the speaker will do or when he will call it for a vote,” Unes said.