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Bivins seeks compromise on weapons

NRA unhappy with latest concealed carry proposal

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 2:38 p.m. CDT
Tim Bivins

DIXON – Dixon’s state senator is working with a Chicago colleague to strike a compromise that would allow concealed carry of weapons in Illinois.

Sens. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, and Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, were selected by their respective Senate party leaders to reach an agreement.

Raoul, as with most Chicago legislators, advocates for more gun regulation, while Bivins is typically aligned with the NRA.

“The process has been very smooth,” Bivins said. “There hasn’t been a harsh word exchanged between the two of us. It’s been very civil and solution-oriented.”

One of their tentative proposals already is drawing heat from the Illinois State Rifle Association, the NRA’s state affiliate.

Under the proposal, people who get concealed-carry permits from the Illinois State Police could carry anywhere in the state, except in Chicago and Cook County, where they would have to get an “endorsement” from local law enforcement.

Bivins said people would be able to apply for the permit and the endorsement at the same time. And law enforcement around the state would have input on people seeking concealed-carry permits, he said.

The State Rifle Association is unhappy with that framework.

“We don’t like special exemptions for Chicago and Cook County,” said Richard Pearson, the association’s executive director. “I don’t know if people know it, but they’re part of the United States. They have civil rights like the rest of the people.”

He said the endorsement may result in a system in which only the Chicago mayor’s friends get concealed-carry permits.

“It’s a way to discriminate against the poor,” Pearson said.

Bivins said he had spoken with about 50 people from his Senate district since Friday.

“They’re 100 percent comfortable with the concept, but they’re not from Chicago or Cook County,” he said.

The senator said the compromise bill still was being written, but he expected a draft to be released this week. He said he would have to read the wording before he decides to support it.

“We want to give everyone their Second Amendment rights,” Bivins said. “We have to be reasonable about it.”

In December, a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled that Illinois’ ban on concealed weapons was unconstitutional. It gave the state a June 9 deadline to develop concealed carry regulations. Without such rules, anyone with a firearm owner’s identification card could carry loaded weapons in public.

Bivins, a former Lee County sheriff, said that if the state ignores the June 9 deadline, that would create a lot of problems.

“All you would need is a FOID card to carry [concealed weapons],” he said. “For me personally, I followed court directions for 32 years. We have to follow the direction of the court. Whatever we come up with, not everyone will be happy.”

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