* From a press release…
Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan on Thursday announced the House Judiciary Committee will convene public hearings later this month on the issue of expanding gun safety laws and reviewing the recent federal court ruling concerning the unlawful use of weapons.
“In light of events in recent months in Illinois and in other parts of the country, it’s appropriate and necessary that we give a full vetting to proposed state legislation on this matter,” Madigan said. “These hearings will provide an opportunity for gun safety advocates, gun rights supporters and members of the law enforcement community to offer their views and argue their cases to legislators and the people of Illinois.”
Last December, a federal appeals court struck down Illinois’ law on the unlawful use of weapons, requiring the state to adopt a law allowing residents to carry firearms in some form. Just three days later, a gunman carrying a semi-automatic rifle and two pistols murdered 20 schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The court ruling and the incident at Sandy Hook highlight the need to review Illinois law with an eye toward either making gun ownership and possession less cumbersome on law-abiding citizens or toughening firearm restrictions to better limit gun violence.
The first House Judiciary Committee hearing will be held Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 12 p.m. in Room 114 of the State Capitol in Springfield. A second hearing will take place Friday, Feb. 22 at 10 a.m. in the sixth floor committee room of the Michael A. Bilandic Building in Chicago. Advocates concerned with all aspects of the firearms issue will be invited to testify.
Available seating for the hearings will be limited, and those who wish to attend will be required to show official state identification and pass through strict security
Rep. Elaine Nekritz chairs the Judiciary Committee. It has a diverse membership, with some pretty strong progun guys like Rep. John Bradley and some gun control folks like vice-chair Rep. Ann Williams.
* Across the rotunda, Sen. Kwame Raoul will lead the majority party’s effort to find a compromise. From a press release…
State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-13th) filed legislation yesterday that will become a negotiated concealed carry proposal. Senate President John Cullerton designated Raoul to bring together all voices in the gun debate to develop a legislative response to Judge Richard Posner’s December ruling, which set a 180-day deadline for action. Language drafted in the course of negotiations will be added to Senate Bill 1337.
“The negotiations I lead will respect firearm owners’ constitutional protections as interpreted by the Supreme Court and lower courts, and it will acknowledge the fact that there are many law-abiding Illinois gun owners who legitimately wish to use guns for sport and self-protection,” Raoul said. “At the same time, we will also acknowledge the alarming prevalence of gun violence and the need to keep guns out of the hands of those most likely to use them for harm.”
Illinois is the last remaining state in the nation not to provide for some form of concealed carry. On Dec. 11, Judge Posner, writing for the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, declared unconstitutional the state’s restrictions on carrying a firearm in public. It gave the Illinois General Assembly until June 9, 2013, to change the law.
“While I respect and appreciate the attorney general’s request for review by a full panel of the appeals court, the legislature can’t ignore its responsibility,” Raoul said. “The 49 states that allow concealed carry do not have identical policies, and we need to find an approach that’s right for Illinois. But let me be clear – we must comply with the court’s mandate, and we will.”