As mass shootings have prompted nationwide calls for more gun control, Illinois is in the unique position of having to ease restrictions on firearms. That will be the subject of a pair of hearings scheduled for later this month.
Even as the governor and other gun control advocates sound the call for a ban on future sales of assault weapons … they’re having to also consider allowing people to carry guns in public. Illinois is the only state with that forbids concealed carry … for now. But a federal court’s given lawmakers until June to lift the ban. And the National Rifle Association has been clear that if a law is too restrictive, it’ll go back to court.
As both sides are practically forced to try to find a middle ground, House Speaker Mike Madigan has announced a pair of special hearings. The first is scheduled for Feb. 19, in Springfield; a panel will meet again on the 22nd in Chicago.
Democratic Representative Brandon Phelps says he sees the hearings as a sign of recognition that something must be done; he’s sponsor of a concealed carry proposal. But Phelps says he wishes there was one set in deep southern Illinois, where he’s from – and other areas where the gun culture is different than in Chicago.
“I think there should be one in Metro East, there should be on in Quad Cities, there should be one you know up around you know Quincy, there should be one over around Paris, Illinois. I think they should be all over the state because that’s how important this is,” he said.
A spokesman for the Speaker says there are no plans for additional hearings, though it may happen if there’s a need and the schedule permits.