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Editorial: No more concessions on gun bill

The ongoing debate over concealed carry firearms Illinois reached inWaukegan City Council chambers Monday June 3. | Sun-Times file

The ongoing debate over concealed carry of firearms in Illinois reached into the Waukegan City Council chambers on Monday, June 3. | Sun-Times file

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Updated: June 30, 2013 6:26AM

We doubt many gun control proponents in the state Legislature ever thought they could vote for a concealed-carry bill that not long ago would have been a gun advocate’s dream.

And we doubt many people thought the NRA would claim to be neutral when such a bill came up, even if by all appearances it is pushing for it behind the scenes.

But that’s what happened Tuesday when a state Senate committee approved a bill that would permit the statewide carrying of concealed weapons. Lawmakers who once hoped to include other gun-safety provisions, such as universal background checks, have given up. At this point, they should make no further concessions.

Last year, pro-gun forces couldn’t get any kind of concealed-carry bill through the Legislature. But a December ruling by the U.S. 7th District Court of Appeals has so altered the legal landscape that gun advocates want not only concealed carry but also the elimination of all municipal and county gun laws. That means no assault weapons ban in Chicago, for instance. An impossibly bad bill passed last week in the House would do just that.

The much preferred, if still odious, Senate bill, which could come to a vote in the full Senate as early as Wednesday, is “shall carry,” meaning it would not allow local police to refuse to issue concealed-carry permits. It also includes preemption, meaning it would not allow local jurisdictions to rule concealed firearms off limits in places other than those banned by the state law. Some senators had to swallow hard before voting “yes.”

The House bill also would have allowed carrying in some establishments where liquor is served and would set a lower penalty for carrying a gun while under the influence than driving a car. That’s unacceptable.

At this point, gun-safety advocates must draw a line. No more concessions.

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