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Concealed Carry Prompts Lively Debate In Bronzeville

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Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The likelihood of concealed-carry gun legislation in Illinois prompted lively debate Saturday at a “town hall” meeting in the near South Side Bronzeville neighborhood.

“Whether or not I support it, the reality is that concealed-carry is here,” said Ald. Pat Dowell, one of a handful of lawmakers who attended the forum, on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus.

A 7th U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Dec. 11 that the state’s ban on carrying concealed guns was unconstitutional, and gave the General Assembly 180 days to come up with legislation it deems acceptable.

Those in the room were split over the legislation. One woman demanded repeatedly that gun manufacturers be forced to pay murder victims’ families billions of dollars in damages.

Another woman, Crystal Carothers, said she was conflicted.

“Is this law so that I’m over 21, I’m supposed to come out and if I see a young person getting shot, I’m supposed to take my gun and shoot the person who’s shooting them?” she asked.

But when long-time Chicago resident Gus Philpot asked for a show of hands he found 30 in the crowd of 80 who said they would seek concealed-carry permits immediately.

State Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) said Chicago’s international reputation once again has become associated with gun violence, and said he wants to find a compromise that gives gun owners what they want with protections built in. He said Illinois is the last state to enact concealed-carry legislation because of one man, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

“The Speaker of our House knows, like most of us know, that if it hit the House floor it would pass,” Dunkin said.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Van Der Myde said that the appeals court made it clear in its December ruling that if the legislature passes nothing, he wins.

“Then, if you have nothing more than a (Firearm Owners Identification Card) in your pocket, you can put a gun on your hip,” he said.

Van Der Myde said the General Assembly had two years to pass a bill that lay dormant, much of which has resurfaced in a new bill, HB997, although he said compromises that had been negotiated in the last legislature are now “off the table.”

“There are certain things that are non-negotiable in this process,” he said. “It will be a ‘shall issue’ permit. There will be no discretion on the part of some bureaucrat as to whether or not you get to exercise your right. It will be a statewide permit. There will be no carve-out for Chicago. There will be no carve-out for Cook County.”

Van Der Myde said at another point that he is “writing” the legislation that he expects to pass.

Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, the Speaker’s daughter, is deciding whether to seek a re-hearing of the suit by the entire 7th U.S. Court of Appeals. Van Der Myde said that to do so would be “a waste of money.”