SPRINGFIELD — Once again, downstate Illinois lawmakers in both parties have sent to the House legislation that would allow people to carry concealed weapons.

By Benjamin Yount

SPRINGFIELD — Once again, downstate Illinois lawmakers in both parties have sent to the House legislation that would allow people to carry concealed weapons.

And, once again, the effort appears headed for defeat.

The House Agriculture and Conservation Committee on Tuesday voted, 11-1, to move forward HB5745 for a vote later this spring. The legislation would allow sheriffs in the state’s 102 counties to issue concealed-carry permits. People — those without a criminal record — would pay $65 to apply for the permit and complete firearms training.

State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said Illinois is the only state in the nation that bans its residents from carrying a concealed handgun.

“If (concealed carry) is so bad, why are the other state’s not trying to repeal it,” Phelps asked the media after Tuesday vote.

The argument to join the other states failed to persuade Rep Kelly Burke, D-Chicago, the lone representative to vote against HB5745 in committee.

“I am from Cook County,” Burke said. “And concealed carry is not popular with law enforcement or voters back home.”

Burke’s not alone.

In May — the most recent time the Illinois House voted on concealed carry — 30 of the 32 lawmakers who voted against concealed carry were from Cook County.

“Concealed carry is a geographic issue in Illinois,” Burke said. “And since the geography is not going to change, we need to work on our differences and not just jam legislation through the House.”

Former state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, said concealed carry is one of a handful of issues that splits the General Assembly by location, not by political party.

“You get a downstate-suburban versus Chicago regionalism,” Black said. “And it’s only getting worse.”

Black served 25 years in the Illinois House, and he has seen several failed attempts to pass concealed-carry legislation.

“Folks in Chicago are not comfortable with firearms. The thought of someone carrying one upsets them,” Black said. “I don’t think concealed carry will ever happen in Chicago.

But Phelps said he thinks a coalition of downstate and suburban lawmakers may be able to succeed —this time.

“I think we’re as close as we’ve ever been,” Phelps said Tuesday. “There are some people that are leaving office who have said they would vote for it this time. We’re very, very close.”

It will take 71 votes — not a simple majority of 60 — for the House to approve concealed carry. Lawmakers decided long ago that a statewide concealed-carry law would pre-empt local laws.

State Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Galesburg, said concealed-carry supporters need to focus on the big picture this year, and not push for legislation that cannot pass the House or the Illinois Senate.

“This is just from a guy who has been around the track a few times. The objective here is to move toward concealed carry, and I support that, “Moffitt said. “Keep in mind, the goal is to pass permit to carry.”

Phelps said he has 70 votes. Last May, 65 state representatives voted for concealed carry. A vote on HB5745 is not scheduled in the House and, Phelps said, he may change the legislation before the final deadline in late May.

Join the Conversation


  1. About time

    that Illinois moved into the 20 th century.That will put us 112 years behind the rest of the country. I currently see no reason to own a hand gun, let alone a conceal one,  but that could change if the disaster running Washington isn't removed by the end of this year.

    1. Exactly.

      And here I was thinking that Evanston was a "progressive" town… why am I not legally able to carry my tiny little handgun around town to protect myself? Sounds a bit backward & medieval to me…

    2. Guns and the constitution

      Skip, if you see no personal reason to own a hand gun let alone conceal one, thats your privledge, just as much as it is my right by our constitutional right via second amendment, to have one and defend myself.  What right do you have to suppress others of their rights?

      By your standards you are saying I have no right to protect myself from gang bangers who have no respect for life or property. You are a nearsighted liberal typical Chicagoian, with no clue.


  2. Time to end the illegal local laws

    "If (concealed carry) is so bad, why are the other states not trying to repeal it,"  Answer: because they know first hand that crime rates drop rather quickly once such laws are implemented.

    "I am from Cook County," Burke said. "And concealed carry is not popular with law enforcement or voters back home."  Which law-enforcement officers is Burke talking to? I've never once met a cop who wasn't a vocal proponent of concealed carry laws. I even have a number of Chicago cop friends who encourage me to carry my tiny little handgun despite the local laws.

    There's another problem with our local laws: last I checked, the 2nd Amendment is still on the books…..and as long as it is, Americans retain the right to *keep* (own) and *bear* (carry) arms. As long as the 2nd remains, the local laws are illegitimate. In fact, Americans would retain the right to keep & bear arms even if it were removed from the Bill of Rights. This is a right all living things are born with and thus cannot be granted or taken away by any government.

    If my Illinois driver's license is good in all 50 states, why is my Pennsylvania concealed-carry permit not?

    "Concealed carry is a geographic issue in Illinois…"  Correct. Chicago/Cook County is a far more dangerous place than the rest of the state, making it a better idea to carry a gun here in NE Illinois than in any other part of the state. Are you more or less likely to experience random violence in Chicagoland or in downstate Mattoon?

    "Washington didn't use his right to free speech to defeat the British. He shot them."

  3. The real risk of concealed carry

    An Emergency Room doctor, Dr. Arthur L. Kellerman, saw gun related injury and death in the ER.  Dr. Kellerman studied it numerous times.

    If you own a gun, then when you get in an argument it is more lethal.  Suicide is more lethal.  Accidents are more lethal.

    From Dr. Kellerman's study: 76.7 percent of the murderers were relatives, friends, or acquiantances of the victim.

    It is not an intruder you need to worry about.  Think of the little children and the friends they shoot by accident.  Think if the gun assisted suicides no one can recover from.  Think of the family arguments, the drunken party arguments, the broken hearted arguments…..

    This is the real risk of concealed carry.


    1. Flawed Study

      Dr. Kellerman's studies were considered highly flawed by many experts. He may have been a fine emergency room doctor but he lacked the ability to run a study. He failed to ever supply his raw data or control questions. Four years after the release of his original study, he made major changes in the result of his original study but still refused to provide his data and additional criticisms heaped upon him.

      In the following years he was not able to prove the results of his study. Many of his peers admitted that his effort was driven by his political agenda.

      I'm sure that you could come up with a better study to quote, than Kellerman's.

      1. Family or Aquaintences

        Of course they were family, friends, or aquaintences.  Where do you think motive comes from?

        1. Motive in this case appears to be

          Politics and it happens all the time from both ends of the political spectrum.

  4. Having a gun increases risk of your own homicide

    From FBI statistics: In 2009, 24.2 percent of victims were slain by family members; 53.8 percent were killed by someone they knew (acquaintance, neighbor, friend, boyfriend, etc.).

    From the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

    • Children and young adults (24 years of age and under) constitute over 41% of all firearm deaths and non-fatal injuries.
    • Firearms were used in 17,352 suicides in 2007, constituting 55% of all gun deaths.
    • Firearm homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans ages 1-44.

    We care about African American citizens in Evanston.  Increasing the number of guns on the streets of Evanston is not going to make you or your family safer.

    Volunteer at YMCA's youth mentoring Project Soar.  Work with BooCoo's gardening project.  Talk to your neighbors.  Create the safe community you want to live in.

    "Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him." Martin Luther King Jr.


    1. your numbers

      Your numbers may or may not be entirely accurate, but I honestly don't care. I know that my numbers are undoubtedly correct when I say that I am 100% likely to never kill anyone with any of my firearms unless my life (or the lives of my family, friends, those around me) is being threatened. I wish the same could be said for everyone out there who owns a firearm. I guess I'm just lucky to have been born in a small town and raised by two of the best parents anyone could ever hope to have. I was given my own .22 rifle at age 8 and would often hunt squirrel with friends; no parents were anywhere to be found on these trips. Dad taught me proper safety techniques and the rest was up to me. Nobody ever got hurt, except for a few squirrels, of course.

      Our founders were wise enough to include "shall not be infringed" in the verbiage of the 2nd Amendment, and I believe them. I will not rest until our Constitutional rights have been fully restored. We've made great strides in the last few years and I see this momentum continuing.

      Does anyone really still think that disarming the lawful gun owners of this land will result in improved safety?

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