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Concealed gun bill stuck in a Capitol holdup
Proposal is likely to miss deadline
By Amber Krosel | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/12/2008 12:13 AM

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SPRINGFIELD -- On a day when hundreds of Illinois gun owners flooded the state capital to oppose gun-control measures, an attempt to allow conceal-to-carry stalled in committee.

State Rep. Aaron Schock, a Peoria Republican, proposed to allow uniform standards for issuing permits to carry concealed firearms. This week is a key deadline for gaining support from a House committee on legislation to be considered this session.

Schock said Tuesday he's hoping for an extension to allow his proposal to have a shot at moving onto the House floor.

Previously this year, the gun debate had been dominated by the Northern Illinois University murders. But on Tuesday, lawmakers and lobbyists tried to steer clear of the touchy topic.

"Those tragedies aside, I think it's an important issue for us to debate and talk about," Schock said. "But unfortunately, the current leadership of Springfield doesn't agree."

Despite a less NIU-related gun debate than last month's, state Rep. Elaine Nekritz said the shooting likely further separates supporters and opponents on the issue.

"It probably entrenches people into their positions," the Northbrook Democrat said. "Do I think 60 kids sitting around with guns in their hands are going to shoot at and stop one person? No. Do they (conceal-to-carry supporters) … ? Yes. I think we all just dig our heels in."

Schock's legislation would require a conceal-to-carry permit applicant to be at least 21 and complete a handgun-training course. Those with felony records or histories of mental illness or drug or alcohol problems would not be approved.

Illinois and Wisconsin are the only two states that completely prohibit the right to carry concealed firearms, according to the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. The agency says 40 states allow concealed weapons under varying permit conditions, and eight states prohibit them except in "very limited" circumstances.

Among the many gun owners fighting Tuesday against proposals such as ammunition coding and sporting-rifle bans, more than 50 women voiced support for the self-defense needs Schock's legislation would allow.

Valinda Rowe, spokeswoman for IllinoisCarry.com, said she denies the popular argument that conceal-to-carry laws similar to other states' would create more violence and crimes in Illinois.

"There are no 'Wild Wild West' stories to report," Rowe said. "People are not shooting each other over parking spots."