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posted: 12/14/2012 8:57 AM

Editorial: Go slow on crafting concealed carry law

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

A lot of things about Illinois and its politics and government are upsetting and need to be changed. But many -- us included -- have relished the fact that our state is the last holdout in allowing residents to carry concealed weapons.

But that is all about to change. A federal court ruled that Illinois' prohibition is unconstitutional and that Illinois doesn't have "unique characteristic of criminal activity" that would provide an excuse to ban concealed weapons.

So, while Attorney General Lisa Madigan weighs her options in terms of appeals, we think that will probably only delay the inevitable. So, the real work now falls to the legislature and the governor to make sure that any concealed carry law in Illinois provides enough protection for citizens.

The court gave the state 180 days to come up with a new law. As this debate has gone on for decades in Springfield, that's not a lot of time, especially given all the other priorities facing Illinois. But this must be given proper attention.

The reaction to the ruling has been swift. Gun advocates have their ardent supporters who do not want any restrictions, but we hope the more moderate voices will be heard as legislation is crafted. In striking down the law, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also said a new gun law should "impose reasonable limitations, consistent with public safety and the Second Amendment."

So when Todd Vandermyde, a National Rifle Association lobbyist, said in an Associated Press story Thursday that gun control advocates could forget any limits such as partial bans near places such as day-care centers and schools, we say, that's not helpful.

Or when Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, says a law can be quickly passed next month, we say, slow down.

What needs to happen is a good understanding of what's working in the other 49 states. Indeed, many of the fears critics had about concealed carry laws do not seem to have taken hold in the rest of the country. And there should be plenty of data to peruse so that restrictions, licensing, background checks, training and fees make sense for Illinois.

Legislators also need to consult with law enforcement experts to avoid, as Mundelein Police Chief Ray Rose said, any "knee-jerk" legislation.

"I think it's important that we stress that public safety comes first," said Gov. Pat Quinn, adding that people with a history of mental illness who are involved in domestic violence should not be allowed to carry weapons.

"I think that's where the people of Illinois are on this issue. ... We cannot have those sorts of people eligible to carry loaded weapons on their person in public places, whether it be malls, churches or schools."

Gun control advocates must be willing to compromise. It will be easier with gun advocates who recognize there is room to compromise as well.

"We don't want the wild, wild west," said state Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican.

No, we don't.

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