SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A concealed-carry gun deal brokered by House Speaker Michael Madigan cleared a House committee Thursday, but its prospects were unclear across the Capitol in the Senate because of the way it would curb existing local gun laws.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 13-3 to send the gun measure to the House floor, where Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, said it would get a vote Friday.
The legislation sponsored by ardent gun-rights advocate Rep. Brandon Phelps, a southern Illinois Democrat, would overturn any local ordinance on the books, including Chicago’s assault-weapon ban.
Phelps told Rep. Ann Williams, a Chicago Democrat and one of the “no” votes, that the plan answers the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decree that the Second Amendment gives citizens the right to carry guns, regardless of locale.
“If you have all these different ordinances and all these different laws, we really believe that you’re hurting the law-abiding gun owner because they don’t know what you expect of them from one place to another,” Phelps said.
The Harrisburg Democrat said 109 different local governments have some sort of gun restriction.
Gun-control advocate Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Chicago, agreed the legislation was the best available given the court order, but questioned the idea that cities would have to go through the state Capitol to re-enact other gun limits.
“Every time we want to consider matters like this we’re going to have to come down to Springfield and I don’t know if that’s a recipe for success going forward,” Zalewski said.
Senate President John Cullerton’s office was more pointed. Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for the Chicago Democrat, called the pre-emption of local laws an “overreach” by “giving the state exclusive authority to regulate any matter related to firearms — registration of firearms and assault weapons bans included.”
Phelps has long advocated a concealed-carry bill, and a plan he ran on the floor last month fell short by seven votes. The Madigan plan that was OK’d Thursday is similar but adds significantly to the list of places guns would be prohibited, including on mass-transit buses and trains, a key for violence-weary Chicago Democrats.
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