SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A compromise on how and where Illinois gun owners would be able to carry their weapons in public was poised for a committee hearing, lawmakers said Thursday as they headed into the final scheduled day of legislative action and 10 days before a court-ordered deadline.
Chicago Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul said the deal would allow local municipalities to retain gun regulations, something he and other supporters of tighter gun restrictions insisted be included. But he gave ground on the issue of allowing guns in restaurants, even if they serve liquor.
Sen. Gary Forby, a Democrat from Benton, in far southern Illinois, will sponsor the plan, a nod to the gun-rights advocates.
A federal appeals court ruled in December that the state’s ban on the carrying of concealed weapons is unconstitutional and gave lawmakers until June 9 to enact a law allowing it.
Raoul said lawmakers were “still tightening up details” but key parts of the House and Senate measures remained. Chicago Democrats won the protections they hoped for with provisions that would prohibit guns in such places as schools and public parks, museums, and at street festivals that dot Chicago neighborhoods and its lakefront in the warm months.
The proposal also contains some of the nation’s tougher training requirements and the opportunity for local police to object to an applicant’s request for a concealed-carry permit, Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, said.
Raoul, who opposed allowing guns in any establishment where alcohol is served, said Senate Democrats consented to allowing guns in restaurants where less than 50 percent of sales come from liquor. National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde has said a gun owner should be allowed to carry a weapon into a restaurant for a meal even if liquor is served as long as he or she doesn’t become intoxicated.
The apparent deal comes after a Cullerton-controlled committee rejected a more permissive bill that cleared the House 85-30 last week and advanced a stricter measure by Raoul. Just a day earlier, the House plan’s sponsor, Rep. Brandon Phelps, a southern Illinois Democrat, was skeptical the House would agree to giving up the idea of “pre-emption,” or invalidating all local firearms ordinances such as Chicago’s assault weapons ban.
Phelps declined to comment Thursday until the new language is made public. The NRA’s Vandermyde did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
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