SPRINGFIELD -- Many individual suburbs would get the opportunity to decide where people could carry concealed guns under a plan approved by a Senate committee Thursday.
The plan, which is opposed by the National Rifle Association, would allow permit holders to carry concealed weapons in Illinois, but all municipalities of more than 25,000 residents would get to decide where carrying a gun was off-limits.
The panel approved the plan by a 10-4 vote, sending it to the full Senate for more debate.
The proposal does not limit the kind of restrictions suburbs could impose, but they couldn't ban concealed carry completely.
"If you get a community that is very restrictive it could trample on someone's second amendment rights," said Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont.
Other opponents argue the provision would make it difficult for those carrying concealed weapons to legally travel the "patchwork" of different restrictive gun zones in the state.
"Do they have to do their homework from town to town of what restrictions there are?" asked state Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican. "Isn't that a potentially undue burden on them?"
State Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat who came up with compromise, said towns would have time to inform concealed carry permit holders of additional restrictions in municipalities around the state. In addition, Raoul told reporters that municipalities would have to post signs informing the public if concealed firearms were prohibited.
Lawmakers are racing against a court-imposed June 8 deadline to craft the state's first concealed carry legislation. Currently, it is illegal to carry a concealed firearm in Illinois, the last state not to allow it in some form.
Raoul's plan is designed to address the wide variety of opinions on gun laws in Illinois that vary more by region than by political party.
Areas that would be restricted statewide in the proposal include schools, government buildings, establishments that sell alcohol, stadiums, hospitals and other locations.
Concealed carry would also be banned on public transportation such as trains and buses. Permit holders could conceal handguns when traveling by car.
Universities and community colleges would have the power to make their own concealed carry boundaries.
In addition, Chicago residents would have to clear a special hurdle to obtain permission to carry a concealed weapon. Under the proposal, Chicagoans would have to prove to the Chicago police superintendent that they have a valid reason to carry a weapon and are of "good moral character."