The Illinois House and Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill on May 31, 2013 that will allow the state to issue concealed carry permits. After a federal appeals court ruled that an outright ban on concealed carry was unconstitutional in December, the state legislature was given a deadline of June 9 to come up with a law allowing it. The resulting Firearm Concealed Carry Act passed with veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate. The bill now awaits Governor Quinn’s signature. He has previously stated his opposition to the bill due to public safety concerns. The Attorney General has requested more time for Quinn to consider the bill before signing.
Some consider the new law in Illinois to be the most restrictive carry law in the country. One of the eligibility requirements is 16 hours of accredited training and education in classrooms and on a range, dealing with safety, marksmanship and knowledge of the laws. Illinois residents must pay a $150 application fee, while non-residents pay $300. A license will be valid for 5 years and will be tied to an individuals Firearms Owners Identification Card and drivers license. The application process should take no more than 90 days and includes extensive criminal and mental health background checks and fingerprinting. An application can be denied if any law enforcement agency or health official deems an applicant to be a “clear and present danger” to “himself, herself, or others, or a threat to public safety”. There are several sections that deal with mental health, calling for school officials and doctor, physicians and psychologists to report on anyone they suspect of having mental health issues. Anyone adjudicated or deemed as mentally disabled or deficient will be ineligible. Denials of applications can be appealed to a 7-member review board composed of judges, attorneys, law enforcement officials, and a physician.
Despite the allowance of concealed carry, there are still many places that will be off-limits. Schools and public universities will remain “gun free zones”, as will all government and public buildings and parks, buses and trains, casinos, bars, large outdoor events and athletic stadiums. The law also allows private universities and colleges, as well as private businesses, to determine for themselves if they shall remain gun free zones, so long as they post a sign declaring as much.
Section 13.1 of the Firearms Concealed Carry Act deals with preemption. The law explicitly states that it trumps the “home-rule” of all municipalities within the state. Any type of ban, restriction or regulation of handguns or ammunition in excess of the rules and regulations set forth in the law, are invalid. Assault weapons bans, like the one in Chicago, will remain valid. This effectively allows licensed residents to carry handguns in any municipality throughout the state, so long as they are in compliance with the state law.
The new concealed carry law in Illinois can be viewed as a win for 2nd Amendment supporters. Although it does not go as far as other states in promoting and protecting gun rights, at least Illinois has finally joined the other 49 states in recognizing those rights and allowing law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and others by concealed carry.