The sheriff of Illinois' most populous county believes a proposed concealed weapons law is "fatally flawed" because it all but guarantees that people who should not be allowed to have guns will be able to get them, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
In a letter Wednesday to Gov. Pat Quinn, who is considering signing the legislation, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart doesn't say the bill approved by lawmakers last month should be vetoed. But he harshly criticizes a provision that would require law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to object to a governor-appointed panel if they suspect applicants are dangerous to themselves or others.
The sheriff said that if Quinn signs the bill into law, it would be impossible for law enforcement to adequately investigate what he expects to be a flood of applications, resulting in granting some people permits to carry concealed weapons who shouldn't get them.
"This bill creates a process that is designed to fail and will put Illinois communities at increased risk," Dart wrote. "This bill is fatally flawed and creates the illusion of public safety."
Quinn's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
In an interview, Dart told the AP that small counties may be able to keep up with the with permit applications -- but that in Cook County, home to Chicago and more 358,000 Firearm Owners Identification cardholders, that would be impossible. He said the job would be even more difficult because there appears to be no requirement that applicants reveal if they've received mental health counseling or any other information that might raise concerns among law enforcement.
"All we are given is a name, that's it," Dart said.
The sheriff said he was particularly troubled that the legislation appears not to allow law enforcement to do anything if they come across information after applicants are granted concealed-carry permits.
"If we find out later there is a well-known Gangster Disciple (gang member) who got a permit and everyone agrees that it should have been prevented, there is nothing we can do about it," Dart said.
Dart's objections is the latest chapter in what has become a contentious issue ever since a federal appeals court ordered Illinois -- the last state in the nation that prohibits concealed weapons -- to allow concealed carry.