Despite the best efforts of Chicago-area politicians to delay the inevitable, Illinois concealed carry is finally a reality.
According to The (Springfield, Ill.) State Journal-Register, after an amendatory veto by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, the General Assembly voted Tuesday to override the veto and passed the state Senate by a 41-17 vote, making Illinois the final state to pass a concealed carry policy.
The move comes months after a federal appeals court ruled the state's concealed carry ban was unconstitutional and ordered state lawmakers to come up with a policy within 180 days, though that deadline was pushed back several times as Quinn took time to "review" the bill.
While the governor delayed, state's attorneys across the state publicly refused to prosecute anyone arrested solely on the charge of carrying a concealed firearm.
The move put pressure on Quinn to take action on the bill. However, Quinn exercised an amendatory veto, saying he couldn't accept the bill as it was written and implored the General Assembly to draft a new one — just days ahead of the state's final deadline, after which constitutional carry would be in effect. With the veto, Quinn sought to limit gun owners to one handgun with a 10-round magazine limit and a ban on carrying in establishments serving alcohol, among other provisions.
Before Tuesday's vote, Quinn predicted a showdown with state lawmakers, some of whom openly questioned the governor's motives, especially given the tight deadline.
"Why would the governor want to put people in that predicament?" Rep. Brandon Phelps — a Democrat from downstate Harrisburg, Ill., and one of the bill's sponsors — told The State Journal-Register. "That's the problem with what's he's doing. I don't think he understands what he's doing."
Now, the Illinois State Police have six months to make ready a system to accept a flood of concealed carry permit applications.
It may take some time, but Illinoisans will finally be granted the rights entitled to them by the Second Amendment. In a state known for imprisoned governors and other embarrassing examples of political corruption, we're glad to see something positive finally coming from the Land of Lincoln.
As for Quinn, we wouldn't be surprised if this snafu — and the ongoing pension battle, and the tremendous amount of debt facing the state — has a detrimental effect on his campaign in 2014.
UPDATE (7/15/13): As we predicted, state legislators are calling Quinn's focus into question, accusing the governor of rallying support from the Chicagoland area while apparently ignoring the wishes of the rest of the state, prompting some lawmakers to wonder if a downstate candidate could challenge Quinn in 2014.
According to The Associated Press, Quinn made several stops in Chicago while trying to push further restrictions down Illinoisans' throats — and he never went south of I-80, prompting many downstate Democrats to wonder if Quinn even cares about opinions downstate.
"I just want someone who does not forget about southern Illinois," said Alice Harris, the Democratic Party chair in Jefferson County, Ill., near the St. Louis metro area. "Seems like all the governors forget about southern Illinois."
Now, lawmakers wonder if a downstate Democrat could challenge Quinn for the Democratic ticket. Appealing, yes, but certainly a tall task.
"I don't envision that a downstate candidate is going to crack the monolithic wall of Cook County, and that's where the votes are," said Paul Wieck, the Coles County, Ill., Democratic Party chair. "Not a ton of downstate industry and millionaires are supporting downstate Democrats."
Meanwhile, the following message was posted to Quinn's Facebook page the same day the General Assembly passed the concealed carry bill:
"Following a weekend of horrific violence in Chicago in which at least 70 people were shot and 12 killed, this was the wrong move for public safety in Illinois. ... In a supreme overreach, this bill even included the National Rifle Association's trademark provision — a ban on future assault weapon bans in home-rule communities — which has nothing to do with the concealed carry of handguns. Public safety should never be compromised or negotiated away. It was wrong on May 31 and it's wrong today."