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Lawmakers Discuss Gun Control At Hearing In Chicago

File Photo (Abid Katib/ Getty Images)

File Photo (Abid Katib/ Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – State lawmakers were gathered in Chicago Friday morning for a public hearing on the issue of expanding gun safety laws.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the meeting comes on the heels of a legal victory for gun rights supporters who want the state to lift its ban on concealed carry of handguns.

As the Illinois House Judiciary Committee hearing was getting underway, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced it would not reconsider a December ruling that the state’s concealed carry ban is unconstitutional.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan had asked the full appeals court to review the ruling by a three-judge panel, arguing conflicts with decisions by other federal appeals courts.

Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said, “my guess is that the Attorney General will not take the action further, because I think the ramifications nationwide will be very challenging for a lot of other states, and particularly Democrats.”

Madigan could take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but legal observers have said doing so would put other states’ concealed carry laws at risk, depending how that court might rule.

Durkin said he believes lawmakers now will have no choice but to adopt a concealed carry law for Illinois by the June 8 – the deadline set by the appeals court before the current ban on concealed weapons will be invalidated.

During the committee hearing, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told lawmakers there must be limits on whatever concealed carry law the General Assembly eventually approves.

“We must make sure that people with a criminal history, or a terrorist background, alcohol or drug addictions, and those with mental illness do not have access to firearms under this new law,” he said.

But Paula Bratich, state coordinator for the Illinois chapter of the Second Amendment Sisters, said local police shouldn’t be the ones setting the limits.

“Since when do we leave the U.S. Constitution to local control? What if we did that with civil rights, or the woman’s rights to vote?” she said.

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.

The measure would also require the Illinois State Police to oversee permits, which would cost $25. Applicants would have to be at least 21 years old.

The measure would prohibit concealed firearms inside schools, childcare facilities, casinos, courthouses, libraries, bars, amusement parks, airports, government buildings, sports stadiums, college buildings, or any place already prohibited by federal law.

Meantime, several near west suburban mayors, along with Congressman Danny Davis and Illinois Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) spoke out for tougher gun control laws at a news conference in Maywood.

They have agreed to work together to change the cultural of guns from the “ground up.”

Maywood Mayor Henderson Yarbrough said he’s introducing a tougher gun control ordinance for his village, and he hopes other west suburban mayors will do the same.

The group said this effort must be a regional concern, and cannot be solved with legislation and government alone. There must be a combined effort by the community – faith-based groups, schools, businesses – all coming together to find a way to stop what the group calls the “senseless violence of guns.”

The mayors also said this cannot just be a restriction on gun sales and ownership, but other pieces of the puzzle must be addressed at the local level – pieces like mental health, violent video games, and family values.