By an 85-30 vote, the Illinois House moved on Friday to approve a law allowing certified residents to carry concealed firearms, which would end Illinois' status as the only state in the nation to completely prohibit carrying guns in public.
According to Reuters, the "shall-issue" law, supported by Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan, mandates that concealed-carry permits be issued to Firearm Owners Identification Card-holders who have completed 16 hours of training; it maintains the ban on firearms in many places, including government buildings, schools, stadiums and bars.
"Criminals are cowards," Rep. Mike Bost, a southern Illinois Republican, told the Associated Press before the vote. "If they know there's an opportunity they're going to get caught or get shot – because they don't like a fair fight – they're not going to commit the crime."
The measure is opposed by Chicago-area lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, though the vote was far more than enough to overturn a likely veto.
"This legislation is wrong for Illinois," Reuters quoted Quinn saying after the vote. "We need strong gun safety laws that protect the people of our state. Instead, this measure puts public safety at risk."
A federal court ruled late last year that Illinois’ ban on conceal carry was unconstitutional and mandated that the state institute a program by a June 9 deadline, after which it would fall to cities and counties to handle restrictions (or not,) which Western Springs Republican Jim Durkin told the AP would result in "more chaos and havoc on our streets."
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