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Demmer packs the house for guns talk

Legislation is muddy, at best

ROCHELLE – Gun owners and gun rights supporters packed a town hall meeting Friday to discuss concealed carry legislation with state Rep. Tom Demmer.

Demmer, R-Dixon, explained two pieces of concealed carry legislation, prompted by a federal appeals court ruling that it is unconstitutional to prohibit concealed carry.

House Bill 1155, sponsored by House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, would allow for concealed carry but also includes a long list of places where handguns would be banned, such as schools, sports stadiums and government buildings and their adjacent properties and parking lots.

“You end up with nowhere in the state of Illinois where you can carry a weapon,” Demmer said. “You have a landline situation.”

Legislators approved several of the amendments, including one that correlates with House Bill 997; legislators approved the amendment, 67-48. House Bill 997, which has broad support and was written with input from a variety of stakeholders, including gun rights supporters and law enforcement, would allow for concealed carry with background checks and registration requirements.

House Bill 1155, as it stands, is contradictory and could not pass, Demmer said. The federal court surely would strike it down, he said.

House Bill 997 remains on the floor and could again come up for a vote. 

One attendee asked whether there is any indication that, if House Bill 997 passes, Gov. Pat Quinn will veto it. Demmer said the governor likely would not veto it in light of the federal appeals court ruling. He said the governor would fly “dangerously close” to the June 9 deadline by which a concealed carry law must be on the books or face a no-holds-barred concealed carry policy that automatically would go into effect.

A few attendees asked about the restrictions contained in the concealed carry legislation, such as fees that they said would make it impossible for people to afford to obtain licenses. Demmer called such measures “crazy restrictions.” He said the court would see through “those games.”

The dozens of gun rights supporters who came out to the meeting also briefly discussed a proposed assault weapons ban.

Demmer explained House Bill 1156, also sponsored by Madigan, which would classify a “wide range of weapons” as assault weapons and ban them. The bill remains on the floor.

One attendee, who echoed the sentiments of many in the room, said an assault weapons ban is unnecessary.

“We aren’t interested in an assault weapons ban. We aren’t interested in a magazine ban. And we aren’t interested in Chicago’s problems,” he said.

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