Despite efforts by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn to gut the bill, the Illinois legislature overrode Quinn's amendatory veto and became the final state in the nation to approve conceal carry legislation.
The Senate voted 41-17 in favor of the override Tuesday afternoon after the House voted 77-31, margins that met the three-fifths threshold needed to set aside the amendatory veto. Quinn had used his veto authority to suggest changes such as prohibiting guns in restaurants that serve alcohol and limiting gun-toting citizens to one firearm at a time.
Quinn had predicted a "showdown in Springfield" after a week of Chicago appearances to drum up support for the changes he made in the amendatory veto. The Chicago Democrat faces a tough re-election fight next year and has already drawn a primary challenge from former White House chief of state Bill Daley, who has criticized the governor's handling of the debate over guns and other issues.
Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Democrat from southern Illinois, predicted a history-making day in which lawmakers would dismiss Quinn's changes as politically motivated.
"He's trying to cater to, pander to Cook County," Phelps said, referring to the nation's second most-populous county, which encompasses Chicago. "And I don't blame him ... because that's where his votes are."
The law as approved by the Legislature permits anyone with a Firearm Owner's Identification card who has passed a background check and undergone gun-safety training of 16 hours--longest of any state--to obtain a concealed-carry permit for $150.
The Illinois State Police would have six months to set up a system to start accepting applications. Spokeswoman Monique Bond said police expect 300,000 applications in the first year.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that it's unconstitutional for Illinois to ban concealed carry. The court gave state officials until June 9 to rectify the shortfall, and later extended that by a month.
Opinions varied about what would have happened had a law not taken effect. Gun supporters said it would have meant with no law governing gun possession, any type of firearm could be carried anywhere, at any time. Those supporting stricter gun control said local communities would have been able to set up tough restrictions.
This is only a partial victory when you consider the restrictions and the prohibitive cost of obtaining the permit. But a victory it is, and in Illinois, it's downright revolutionary. Quinn is, indeed, running scared and tried to use Cook County's muscle to dramatically alter the bill. But even downstate Democrats resented the interference by the Chicago political machine and Quinn paid for his gambit by being humiliated by the legislature.