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Bill lets Illinois cities restrict places for guns

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 4:24 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 4:31 p.m. CDT
(Seth Perlman)
In this May 9, 2013 photo, Illinois Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, argues legislation while on the Senate floor during session at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield Ill. An Illinois Senate proposal to allow the carrying of concealed weapons would let large cities add to the list of places considered off limits to guns. Raoul told The Associated Press Tuesday, May 14, 2013 that he doesn't expect many cities to declare separate gun-free locales because there are already many statewide restrictions in the bill. Raoul's concealed carry legislation includes a state wide gun prohibition in schools, liquor stores, stadiums, amusement parks and more. Illinois has until June 9 to follow a federal court order to enact a law allowing concealed guns in public. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

SPRINGFIELD – An Illinois senator seeking to keep some concealed carry limits in place after a federal judge found the state's ban unconstitutional said Tuesday that his compromise plan would allow large cities to customize their lists of places that are off limits to concealed weapons.

Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat, told The Associated Press that cities would be able to designate unique locales, such as a park or cherished landmark, as gun-free zones above and beyond what restrictions would be put into a law allowing public possession of firearms,

Raoul said that a community could have a "sensitive place" not recognized by a state law as not appropriate for people carrying weapons. But the Chicago Democrat predicted there wouldn't be a great demand for customized places beyond those where concealed weapons already are prohibited under state and local laws.

"They would have to get pretty creative to think of something additional," Raoul said. "It's sort of a security blanket to some who are just nervous about concealed carry generally."

The National Rifle Association opposes the idea and continues to reject a separate plan by Raoul to require people who want to carry a gun in Chicago to get a special "endorsement" from Chicago police.

Lawmakers have struggled to reach agreement on a concealed carry measure ordered by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which decreed in December that Illinois' last-in-the-nation ban on allowing people to carry concealed weapons on the street is unconstitutional.

Raoul was criticized last month when he floated his initial proposal, which called for the Illinois State Police to approve concealed-carry permits throughout the state, but for those wanting to tote guns in Cook County or Chicago, to get a special endorsement from authorities in those jurisdictions.

Raoul said he dropped the Cook County requirement because suburban lawmakers worried about the number of cities that lie partly in Cook County and partly in a suburban county.

Allowing people to carry concealed weapons has its restrictions, even in a pending House bill backed by the National Rifle Association. Raoul's proposal would prohibit carrying guns in government buildings, schools, taverns, sports stadiums, amusement parks, hospitals, libraries, public transportation, jails and more.

"There are those who are concerned that there may be a sensitive place in their part of the state that isn't recognized our our proposaed state law," said Raoul, who, asked about examples of places, said he hadn't heard of many.

The plan, which he said might get a committee hearing this week, would allow so-called "home-rule units" — generally, cities and counties with 25,000 or more population — to designate additional places.

NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde, who predicted last month Raoul's initial proposal wouldn't survive, rejected local input.

"The idea of concealed carry is to carry a gun so you have the ability to defend yourself against somebody trying to do something bad to you," Vandermyde said. "The problem is, they (opponents) don't want you to carry a gun any place where there's people. We're not accepting any local control over this stuff."

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