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updated: 7/10/2013 11:49 AM

What concealed carry means for the suburbs

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  • The Illinois House voted Tuesday to override Gov. Pat Quinn's rewrite of a plan to allow people to carry concealed weapons in public.

      The Illinois House voted Tuesday to override Gov. Pat Quinn's rewrite of a plan to allow people to carry concealed weapons in public.
    Associated Press

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- With the ability to carry concealed handguns soon to be a reality in Illinois, the suburbs have 10 days to decide if they want to put their own stamp on the law -- by banning assault weapons within their borders.

The other option: Let the 10-day period lapse and go with what lawmakers might decide down the road.

Lawmakers' final approval Tuesday of a law allowing people to carry concealed handguns in public includes a 10-day window for suburbs who want to restrict so-called assault weapons. The law says towns with more than 25,000 people can enact local rules similar to Cook County's assault weapons ban. After 10 days, however, any such laws have to come from the state.

The bans have been a hot topic at suburban village boards in the last few weeks as local officials have anticipated lawmakers' move. So far, most suburbs have taken a pass.

Last week, Bartlett decided not to move forward with a ban. Before that, Wheeling rejected one, Island Lake and Hainesville declined to vote for one, and Buffalo Grove and Hanover Park delayed their debates.

"If we avoid sending this to even a board vote and don't recognize the 10-day window ... we're avoiding any ban here, we're avoiding any legal consequences, we're upholding the Constitution," Bartlett Village President Kevin Wallace said at a meeting last week.

The provision was one of a myriad in the complex new gun law that focuses mostly on allowing for concealed carry.

Unlike in previous versions, suburbs won't be allowed to set their own guidelines. Many didn't want to, fearing that different rules in neighboring towns could get otherwise well-meaning gun owners into trouble when they crossed village borders.

But people who get concealed carry permits will have to be mindful of the sometimes complicated rules lest they risk running afoul of the law. People won't be allowed to carry guns on mass transit, for example. Other restricted areas include schools, parks and government buildings.

Permit holders will be allowed to carry a gun in restaurants that serve alcohol, but not bars. And concealed carry is restricted in Cook County Forest Preserve District properties but not banned in other suburban counties' forest preserves.

The concealed carry proposal was largely supported by suburban lawmakers. Almost all who voted for the original plan in May voted Tuesday to preserve it from Gov. Pat Quinn's rewrites.

"Today's vote and the lack of debate is a clear indicator of the ineptitude of the governor on this issue," said state Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican.

The bipartisan suburban support was critical to compromise on an issue that has for decades pitted downstate lawmakers who favor Second Amendment rights against Chicago lawmakers looking for stricter gun control. That gridlock led to Illinois being the last state in the country to adopt a concealed carry law.

The plan had its suburban detractors, though. State Rep. Sam Yingling, a Round Lake Beach Democrat, was the only suburban lawmaker to vote for the original plan in May and then against overriding Quinn.

He argued Quinn's rewrites are "reasonable," especially the one that would have banned concealed carry in restaurants that serve alcohol.

State Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat, agreed. Link, who voted against concealed carry in May, said the training that will be required to carry a gun doesn't guarantee people won't break the rules.

"We train and we test people when they get a driver's license, and we expect them to be exemplary drivers," Link said.

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