CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s a move in Winnebago County to defy state law and allow licensed owners to carry concealed guns.

Winnebago County is not the only area considering concealed carry. But it’s one of the largest: Rockford, Illinois’ third largest city, is there.

“Crime is rampant in Winnebago County. There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t have shootings. Drive-by shootings, gang shootings,” said
Jim Webster, a Winnebago County Board member who’s chairing a public hearing this evening on an effort to allow concealed carry.

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Illinois is the only state that does not permit concealed carry – so if a county like Winnebago allows it, it would be defying state law.

“The founding fathers of this country weren’t a bunch of wimps,” said Webster. “And they weren’t stupid either. They knew that they were defying the king of England.”

Webster says this latest push is driven by the Tea Party, which gathered 11,000 signatures on petitions.

Webster says concealed carry is still a ways from becoming permissible in the county.

“County board members are – some of them that I’ve talked to – are just scared witless that if they vote to approve this they’re going to be breaking state law.”

Webster says he’s not worried.

“I’m just not. I asked our state’s attorney point-blank, ‘Are you telling me that you’re going to arrest me if I vote for this?'”

Webster says the answer was no.

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