Illinois is the only state that does not allow concealed carry under any circumstances, though it’s highly restricted is some of the states where it is permitted. (Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr user Teknorat)
By Dave Dahl
SPRINGFIELD - Residents in some rural counties have sent a message to Illinois lawmakers: Legalize the right to carry concealed weapons.
Measures supporting concealed carry passed overwhelmingly in 10 counties where they were on Tuesday's ballot, including Adams, Bond, Henry, McDonough, Mercer, Randolph, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stephenson and Warren.
The votes were non-binding because local law cannot override state law. But advocates say they hope to build pressure on lawmakers to support concealed carry.
Illinois is the last state where carrying concealed weapons is entirely illegal.
The Illinois House last year defeated a bill that would have legalized concealed weapons, but the vote was close.
Gov. Pat Quinn has promised to veto any bill that would legalize concealed weapons and pushed for a ban on assault weapons earlier this year.
The point man for “concealed carry” in Illinois is somewhat encouraged by the results.
“I think it shows the frustration that people have with the lack of advancement on the issue with the legislature,” said Todd Vandermyde, lobbyist for the National Rifle Association in Illinois.
While some would say an advisory referendum carries no weight, Vandermyde disagrees, saying it spotlights the Chicago and suburbs vs. Downstate divide on concealed carry.
He said he’s awaiting the results of a federal court case which could strengthen concealed carry as a right, not a privilege. That, he said, could determine the chances of a concealed carry bill in the next General Assembly, which convenes Jan. 9.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.