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Illinois Is 50th State To Legalize Carrying Concealed Weapons

Illinois became the last state in the U.S. to legalize carrying concealed weapons after state lawmakers overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

Tuesday's votes — 41-17 in the Senate and 77-31 in the House — came just before a federal appeals court deadline to pass a form of concealed-carry.

As The Associated Press reports, "some lawmakers feared failure to pass something would mean virtually unregulated weapons in Chicago, which has endured severe gun violence in recent months — including more than 70 shootings, at least 12 of them fatal, during the Independence Day weekend."

The law allows residents with a Firearm Owner's Identification card who have passed a background check and completed 16 hours of gun safety training — the longest of any state — to purchase a concealed-carry permit for $150.

The AP reports:

"With the negotiated law, gun-rights advocates got the permissive law they wanted, instead of a New York-style plan that gives law enforcement authorities wide discretion over who gets permits. In exchange, Chicago Democrats repulsed by gun violence got a long list of places deemed off limits to guns, including schools, libraries, parks and mass transit buses and trains.

"But one part of the compromise had to do with establishments that serve alcohol. The law will allow diners to carry weapons into restaurants and other establishments where liquor comprises no more than 50 percent of gross sales."

Quinn had sought changes to the legislation, including, as the AP notes, "prohibiting guns in restaurants that serve alcohol and limiting gun-toting citizens to one firearm at a time."

Following the vote, Quinn defended his efforts to work with lawmakers but said the General Assembly had "surrendered" to the NRA.

"I believe in gun safety, and I'm going to always speak out about that. I don't think people should have their lives and property harmed by people with loaded concealed weapons who don't, under the law, deserve to have them," the governor told the Chicago Tribune.

But Democratic Rep. Brandon Phelps, who sponsored the veto override, said that "it was all grandstanding and [Quinn] should be ashamed of himself."

Tuesday's votes "formalized the deepening rift" between the governor and the legislature, according to the Tribune. The newspaper says they "were more than a rejection of Quinn's efforts to toughen the regulations — they were a repudiation of the Democratic governor's leadership style by a Democratic-led legislature."

A Chicago Democrat, Quinn faces a tough re-election fight next year and has already drawn criticism from one of his challengers in the primary, former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, for his stance on firearm carrying and other issues.

The AP says the Illinois State Police expects to receive 300,000 applications for concealed-carry permits in the first year.

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