Reporting Jay Levine
CHICAGO (CBS) – In Springfield Tuesday afternoon, the first step was taken toward allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons on the streets of Illinois.
State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) has introduced proposed concealed carry legislation – written with the help of the National Rifle Association – in the Illinois House.
The proposal would require background checks gun owners already have to pass to get a Firearm Owner’s Identification card, as well as still-to-be-determined safety course provided by licensed instructors before a person could carry a concealed firearm.
Don Mastrianni, the owner of Illinois Gun Works in Elmwood Park, took CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine through part of the training he expected would be required by the new law.
The final step was actually firing a Glock 9 mm handgun. It took Levine four shots to find the center if the target 60 feet away.
Mastrianni said he expects the required training for a concealed carry permit would take 5 to 10 hours to complete.
The NRA bill would cover the entire state, and says authorities “shall” – as opposed to “may” – issue permits to anyone qualified to own a gun and trained to use it.
Colleen Daley, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence, said gun control advocates are working on their own version of a concealed carry bill, which would be more restrictive.
“We’ve looked at other states who have concealed carry laws that have a ‘may issue’ versus a ‘shall issue.’ Something like New York,” she said.
For example, New York City requires a gun owner to show “proper cause” that they have a special need for protection greater than the general public or others with the same profession before they can obtain a concealed carry permit.
In California, city and county officials have discretion over whether to issue concealed carry permits within their jurisdiction, but must provide, in writing, specific reasons for denying a permit.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, who was once a police officer in New York City, suggested Illinois law should mirror New York’s.
“It’s not just because you want a gun. You have to articulate a decent reason,” he said. “
There are those, including former Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis, who don’t believe a concealed carry law would result in more guns in the wrong hands.
“Let’s put it this way, the bad guys have the guns now. The people that are law-abiding are the ones that are fighting to just protect themselves,” he said.
He rejected claims from some gun control advocates that allowing concealed carry in Illinois would lead to a Wild West situation, with frequent shootouts between law-abiding citizens and criminals.
“That’s an opinion I’ve heard from a lot of people, and it doesn’t seem to happen in all the other states. We have 49 states that allow it. We’re the only one that doesn’t yet. So why didn’t it already happen?” Mastrianni said.
In striking down the state’s ban on concealed carry in December, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals gave lawmakers six months to pass concealed carry legislation, or else everyone in the state would essentially be allowed to carry a concealed weapon.
The authors of the NRA-backed legislation introduced on Tuesday said they have the votes to pass it. Opponents, including the governor, have vowed a vigorous fight for more restrictive rules regarding concealed firearms.