SPRINGFIELD, IL (KTVI)--After months of political debate, Illinois became the fiftieth state to allow residents with gun permits to carry concealed weapons. The vote came Tuesday in the form of a veto override in both the House and Senate.
The state had been under a federal court order to approve rules and guidelines so residents who pass a background check and take special training could carry a concealed firearm. The deadline was midnight Tuesday.
A strong anti-gun lobby in Chicago had dominated legislative debate on the question for years. But in December a federal appeals court gave the Illinois Legislature 180 days to complete a bill. Judges ruled the prohibition against conceal and carry violated the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The court granted a one month extension so Governor Pat Quinn could have time to review the new law. Quinn proposed expanded rules in a rare "amendatory" veto last week. He said the changes would make the bill stronger and better. Critics disagreed warning the July 9 deadline was a final one and if the state had no law in place at that time, gun owners would be free to do whatever they wished. Some predicted a "Wild, Wild West" atmosphere.
Southern Illinois state Representative Brandon Phelps (D) of Harrisburg sponsored the measure and put together a bi-partisan coalition to win approval. He secured 77 votes to override Quinn's veto , six more than he needed.
Phelps said the governor was originally part of the compromise effort.
"He wants to say that he wasn't, but I've got a list his staff gave me of what he wanted in the conceal carry bill," said Phelps. He added, "For him to say he wasn't part of it, he's lying he was part of it. He knew every step of the way what was going on."
The Senate overrode the veto as well as the House. Chicago state Senator Jacqueline Collins was among those who voted with the Governor.
"A veto is not a decision or position I can take out of reverence for those mothers and fathers who have lost children to senseless gun violence, and it is already a wild, wild west for that reason I will be voting no," she told lawmakers on the Senate floor.
The final vote in the House was 77 - yes and 31 no. The Senators cast 41 yes votes and 17 no votes.
It could take as long as six months to set up procedures to qualify residents for conceal and carry permits.
Concealed-carry FAQ: http://www.isp.state.il.us/firearms/ccw/ccw-faq.cfm
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