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Editorial: Listen to the voters

LisMadigan Illinois State's Attorney May 16 2012

Lisa Madigan, Illinois State's Attorney, May 16, 2012

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Updated: June 7, 2013 6:11AM

Sometimes legislators need to pay attention to the voters, not the lobbyists.

The debate in Springfield over concealed carry is a perfect example.

Illinois is under a federal appellate order to enact a law authorizing some kind of concealed carrying of firearms in the state by June 9. The House failed to enact a bill, but now state Sen. Kwame Raoul is trying to negotiate a reasonable compromise in which most Downstate residents would be free to carry concealed guns while Chicago and Cook County authorities could impose tougher restrictions.

Most people think that’s fair. A Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll on April 24 of 1,284 likely Illinois voters found 73 percent of them said it’s fine if Chicago and Cook County police have additional authority over who gets to carry concealed weapons. That’s a big margin. Pollster Gregg Durham joked, “I can’t get 73 percent of people to agree that it’s dark at midnight.”

But too many legislators are listening to the National Rifle Association, which refuses to go along and is intent on pre-empting home rule for Chicago and Cook County. Because of the appellate court ruling, the NRA feels it doesn’t have to give ground. If the NRA wants to make it appear it’s strictly interested in a law that will result in the largest number of gun sales — gun manufacturers are important NRA donors — the organization is going the right way about it.

The perspective on concealed carry is different depending on where you live. Some people in rural Downstate areas point out that law enforcement can be half an hour away, making concealed carry more appealing. But in Chicago, many officials think the city has too many guns already and adding more would be a disaster.

On Friday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan won a one-month extension of her deadline to June 23 for appealing the concealed carry ruling. That forces the Legislature to act.

A new proposal for concealed carry could come as early as this week in the Senate. When it does, we hope all legislators will take seriously the safety needs of the Chicago area.

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