On January 1st, more than 150 new laws went into effect for the state of Illinois, but a law that many residents are keeping an eye on has yet to be written.
State legislators are busy trying to find mutual ground to create a new law that would make Illinois the final state to allow citizens to conceal and carry a firearm.
On December 12th, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s current ban is unconstitutional and gave Illinois legislators 180 days to pass a new concealed carry law.
“This is the thing about the state of Illinois, we really have three states in one,” said Darlene Senger, State Representative, 41st District. “You have Chicago, the suburbs and then downstate, and everyone has different opinions realistically on what concealed carry is.”
Senger expects the House not to come to a decision until later in the spring, but says discussion has already started on a few restrictions.
“So far, we’re saying no carrying in schools or parks or churches,” said Senger. “We’re very concerned with protecting the kids and the residents.”
The recent Newtown, Connecticut tragedy has many across the country looking to Washington for stricter gun laws, but Senger cautions to weigh all factors.
“Certain situations happen and you can’t just respond with a knee-jerk reaction,” said Senger. “You have to look long term for something that works for everyone.”
Guns are something many feel strongly about, and in downtown Naperville, people have very different opinions.
“I think it’s a travesty, and a tragedy,” said Joanna Vassilatos.
“There’s no place for guns in education or in our country,” said Gayle Heiks.
“We’re the only state that doesn’t have it. So it’s the way it should be in Illinois,” said Jay Cech.
“I think there should be more training and education behind it before someone can conceal carry,” said Airon Perkins.
Training is something Police Chief Bob Marshall agrees with, and says there are some pros to citizens carrying guns.
“You could defend your own life,y ou could defend the life of a family member and defend the life of a fellow citizen,” said Marshall.
But says there are also cons.
“Once you use a firearm and you discharge that round or that bullet, it’s an irreversible error. You can’t pull it back,” said Marshall. “The other thing is the mental capacity to use force, potentially deadly force. Not everybody may have that ability and that capability to use deadly force.”
Owning a gun is legal in Illinois for residents with a Firearm Owners Identification, or FOID card, which requires a background check and restricts convicted felons from obtaining one. But many states have even stricter licensing requirements, something both Senger and Marshall support.
If state legislators can’t agree on restrictions by mid-2013, the ban will still be lifted in Illinois.
The Illinois Senate Democrats are pushing for another weapons law: an assault weapons bill, banning assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips.
The senate could vote on the bill as soon as January 4th. If approved it still would have to pass the House of Representatives.
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