Illinois House Republicans Delay Concealed-Carry Debate
By Brian Mackey, with additional reporting from The Associated Press and Illinois Public Media
A raucous debate over guns got under way Tuesday afternoon in the Illinois House of Representatives. At issue are the restrictions that will be in place as lawmakers comply with a federal court order demanding the state allow people to carry guns in public.
Lawmakers are fighting over how loose or restrictive a concealed carry law should be in Illinois. The Democratic leadership in the Illinois House has engineered an unusually open debate — so far 27 amendments have been proposed from both sides of the issue.
Two of those amendments were filed by Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana). One would prohibit carrying a gun at a university or community college, while the other would ban carrying a gun at a hospital or mental health facility.
The Illinois House didn't even complete debate on the first of more than two dozen amendments to concealed-carry gun legislation before Republicans shut it down with a private caucus that lasted until 3:30 p.m.
Republicans have complained about the piecemeal approach. They want an up-or-down vote on a comprehensive conceal-and-carry bill.
"I don't understand why we're playing this political game for the next, I don't know, four, five, six hours, six weeks, six months," said Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst).
Debate in the House is usually tightly controlled. Reboletti speculated the amendments — like one prohibiting concealed weapons near schools — were calculated to force potentially unpopular votes.
"We can get roll calls that can be used against everybody, and say, 'Oh, there's Reboletti, he wants guns in schools.' More nonsense," he said.
Supporters of concealed carry are urging an up-or-down vote on what they say is a "clean" version of the legislation, without the dozens of amendments.
Illinois is the only state without some form of concealed carry.