Is all that about to change? Insiders say "yes."
(Photo used by permission of Oleg Volk)
A note to the reader: this piece was originally published on April Fools' Day, 2010. It caused some discussion in Illinois gun rights circles. Surprisingly enough, there is one utterly true quote in this piece; Senate President John Cullerton really did say he'd like to sit down with "both sides" and work out a solution to the right-to-carry dilemma that each could live with. Unfortunately, that was apparently the last time he mentioned the issue in public.
Illinois gun rights advocates are buzzing with cautious optimism over a right-to-carry deal the Governor's office is thought to have revealed to the NRA and ISRA on Wednesday. The agreement has much to offer gun owners, as it reportedly includes pledges from two major opponents of right-to-carry legislation who rarely agree on much of anything not to interfere with a straight up-or-down vote on concealed carry.
- Governor Pat Quinn--Quinn has stated in the past that he would veto any "concealed carry' bill that passed the legislature. However, he has never treated gun control as his signature issue, as his predecessor Rod Blagojevich did, and there have been subtle signs--very subtle--that his administration was softening on gun rights.
- Speaker of the House Mike Madigan--Madigan has been a consistent and dogged opponent of any expansion of gun rights for years. Known for his extremely close ties to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley (both of them) he has always been willing to use parliamentary procedures to force gun rights advocates to seek supermajority votes on any right-to-carry proposal--which has always been enough to defeat most such bills without a vote actually being called. Madigan's agreement to go along with the rumored deal is the most puzzling of the three leaders; some speculate that it means that Mayor Daley has decided to cut a deal, at least privately.
- Senate President John Cullerton--Cullerton has stated many times that he is personally opposed to right-to-carry laws and that his "constituents don't want that." However, some readers may remember that he told WSIL TV in Carbondale, shortly after he became President of the Senate, "I think we want to be fair to both sides. This is an issue that tends to be regional issue. Folks up in the Chicago area, whether Republican or Democrat, tend to be more concerned about the misuse of guns. The irony is, of course, that they have absolutely no problem with the concerns of people in rural areas that want to use weapons . . . What I'd really like to see in the future is some type of talks between [pro-gun and anti-gun] groups to see if we can bring some kind of accord."
Most pro-gun advocates dismissed this at the time, but it appears that Cullerton may have been serious based on this week's developments.
But what developments are those? What are the terms of this so-called deal, and will they be accepted by all parties? It's difficult to say without knowing what we mean by "all parties"--the NRA's Todd Vandermyde, for instance, had no comment other than "That's bull and you know it." The ISRA's Richard Pearson simply smiled a good-natured smile and said nothing, while IllinoisCarry's spokesman, Valinda Rowe, would say only "Illinoiscarry has no comment at this time other than to point out that Illinois is the last state in the nation with no legal right-to-carry in any form, and we would welcome the Governor and the legislative leadership to join us in doing something about that." The Illinois Council for Handgun Violence did not return calls, but several busy signals seemed to indicate that they were busy calling someone. Rumor has it that the deal on the table, in return for unspecified support from unnamed legislators on certain budget matters, offers gun owners:
- Conversion of the FOID card into a leveled license; the first level would remain the same as today's $10-for-10-years license to possess, own, buy and sell firearms and ammunition. The second level would cost $100 for ten years and would add the power to carry firearms and other unspecified weapons on one's person anywhere in the state.
- Level Two licenses would only be available to Illinois residents 21 and older.
- Once the Level Two license is available, Illinois will honor carry permits from any state that honors Illinois Level Two licenses, which means that only a few states like Indiana and Kentucky will be reciprocal at first, but the list should grow.
- Level Two licenses will require the same background checks and information as Level One, plus either a DD214 certificate to show military experience, or an 8-hour firearm safety/use of force training course with a minimum of one hour of range time.
Is all that palatable to gun rights advocates? It seems likely. Have we reached the day when Illinois becomes a shall-issue right-to-carry state, and even managed to beat the hated Wisconsinites to concealed carry?
That seems more and more likely.