Illinois GOP blasts process for House gun votes

2013-02-26T22:00:00Z 2013-02-27T00:22:11Z Illinois GOP blasts process for House gun votesJohn O'Connor AP Political Writer
February 26, 2013 10:00 pm  • 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. | The Illinois House on Tuesday completed seven hours of debate on the contentious issue of public gun possession by adopting a comprehensive plan long pushed by advocates.

The 67-48 vote in favor of Rep. Brandon Phelps's amendment doesn't mean concealed-carry got House approval. The Harrisburg Democrat's plan was one of a dozen amendments added to a bill allowing concealed gun carrying that a federal court has said Illinois must adopt by June.

The lengthy discussion was part of a seldom-used process set up by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Critics, mostly Republicans, say debating multiple amendments led to a confusing hodge-podge of conflicting provisions. It was unclear when the House would take a final vote on the issue.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that Illinois' last-in-the-nation ban on carrying concealed weapons is unconstitutional and gave the Legislature until June to rectify it. Phelps introduced comprehensive legislation.

But Madigan, a fellow Democrat, identified an empty bill to be the gun legislation and offered lawmakers the chance to add the language through amendments. They filed 27, including competing provisions on whether the state would allow local police to decide who gets permits or requiring issuing permits to anyone who meets minimum qualifications. Many of the proposed amendments, however, ban carrying guns in specific places such schools, day care facilities, casinos, hospitals, libraries and stadiums.

In many cases, they not only prohibit carrying in those facilities, but in parking lots and adjacent property — meaning firearms can't be stored in cars while gun-owners go inside.

"You're spray-painting red circles around all these places and at the end of the day, the whole state is going to be red and you won't be able to carry a gun anywhere," Phelps said.

The Madigan procedure, requiring votes on specific issues, allows anti-gun Democrats to record "no" votes on individual provisions even though they might be forced to vote for a final bill in response to the court ruling. It also means Republicans will be on record as opposing what liberals might term "commonsense" gun restrictions, such as banning them from schools.

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