State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), pictured here taking questions from reporters Friday at the Capitol, was unable to strike an agreement on his concealed-carry bill to move it through the Illinois Senate. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
SPRINGFIELD-A Senate effort to impose restrictive concealed-carry limits on Illinois gun owners failed to surface for a vote Friday as expected even after the legislation was changed to ease opposition from the National Rifle Association.
"One of the realities that I was keenly aware of when I entered this effort was that there are some extremists," said Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), sponsor of the gun-control measure. "There are some extremists with some very loyal followings, and they use intimidation as part of their advocacy efforts. And sometimes that intimidation is quite effective."
Both Raoul and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) had hinted at a full floor vote after the bill cleared a Senate panel on a 10-4 vote Thursday, but it became clear a consensus had not been reached by Friday.
The bill was at least partly short of votes due to NRA resistance over the legislation requiring Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy to vet all permit-seekers in Chicago and allowing local sheriffs to object to any permit application.
Raoul partly gave in to the NRA Friday by removing a part of his bill that would have required applicants to demonstrate "good moral character," a measure criticized for being too vague. But it wasn't enough to get the required 30 votes for passage, and Raoul didn't express a desire to concede much more.
"These are people who, you know, use aggressive advocacy efforts - legal advocacy efforts but aggressive advocacy efforts," Raoul said, alluding to the NRA. "People who rate you by grades as if you were in school."
Raoul isn't likely to concede the part of his bill that allows 'home-rule' communities, like Chicago and more than 200 other local municipalities in Illinois, to set even tighter restrictions on where guns would be allowed.
"And if that means going to the end where there's a stalemate and it'll be up to local municipalities to enact ordinances...they'll see a far worse patchwork that they would have to try to navigate than the compromise that was proposed in my bill," he said.
The possibility of a stalemate appears more likely now as two concealed-carry proposals - one of which was backed by the NRA - already have failed in the House. And with less than a month before a federally mandated June 9 deadline to end the nation's only remaining concealed-carry ban expires, the pressure is piling on the General Assembly.
Senate negotiations with the NRA do not appear to be making headway, and Raoul said he has yet to see the plan that House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) is working on, only that it will differ from Raoul's proposal.
"I'm always looking to forge a compromise with the House," Raoul said. "But I will always have the same priorities that I have."
Meanwhile, Attorney General Lisa Madigan has until June 24 to decide if she wants to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court the federal appeals court ruling that has the Legislature in such a hurry to pass concealed-carry legislation by the end of the month. Gov. Pat Quinn backs the move to appeal.