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GUNS_CONCEALED_CARRY_38610519.JPGIllinois Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), lead sponsor of concealed-carry legislation that failed Thursday, speaks to lawmakers while on the House floor during session at the Illinois State Capitol. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

With reporting by Natasha Korecki and Zach Buchheit

SPRINGFIELD-Legislation backed by gun-rights advocates that would allow Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons went down Thursday in the House, leaving the spring legislative debate over concealed-carry at a stalemate.

Legislation backed by the National Rifle Association and pushed by Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) failed on a 64-45 roll call, with four voting present. The bill needed 71 votes to pass the House.

"This could be our last chance to pass something by June 9th," Phelps said, referring to the federal appeals court deadline imposed on Illinois to pass a concealed-carry law.

Coming up with a concealed-carry law has been one of this spring's dominant legislative issues after the appeals court last December tossed Illinois' outright prohibition on gun owners carrying their weapons in public. Illinois and the District of Columbia are the only places in America without a concealed-carry law.

Phelps, who kept the failed legislation alive through a parliamentary maneuver, and other supporters described his legislation as the strictest concealed-carry rules in the country, where 49 other states already permit their residents to carry guns outside their homes.

"The bad guys already have the guns," Phelps argued. "We're setting up the parameters...to make sure the good guys have the guns."

RELATED: Appeals court overturns Illinois concealed carry ban

When Michelle Obama said in Chicago Wednesday afternoon that "Hadiya Pendleton was me," saying that she could empathize with the slain teen because of their similar backgrounds, Rush Limbaugh got his hackles up.

Specifically, he took the first lady's statements to the obvious next step, saying that her emotional and powerful speaking out against the violence epidemic in Chicago and the broader U.S. was actually a broadside against democracy, capitalism and the American way of life.

Here's Michelle Obama's full speech:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, was on Meet The Press on Sunday in a debate session opposite New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. During an exchange with host David Gregory, LaPierre took to task the Obama administration for what he defined as a poor record enforcing federal gun laws in dealing with gangs in Chicago:

WAYNE LAPIERRE: I mean, let me give you the real sad thing though. Let me hold up a mirror right now to the whole national news media and the White House. I just got the TRAC data from Syracuse University of enforcement of federal gun laws. Last time I was here, I brought it from 2011; it just came out from 2012.

Do you know where Chicago ranks in terms of enforcement of the federal gun laws? Out of 90 jurisdictions in the country, they ranked 90th. Why doesn't NBC News start with, "Shocking news on Chicago. Of all the jurisdictions in the country, Chicago's dead last on enforcement of the federal gun laws?" Why doesn't the national press corps, when they're sitting down there with Jay Carney and the president and the vice president, why don't they say, "Why is Chicago dead last in enforcement of the gun laws against gangs with guns, felons with guns, drug dealers with guns?

DAVID GREGORY, HOST: And you support those as felonies, being charged as felonies?

LAPIERRE: Absolutely. And we want them taken off the street. I mean, if you're the president and the vice president, and the attorney general, and your job is to enforce these laws against the-- I'm talking about drug dealers, gangs, and felons that are walking around with guns in the street, and you don't do it? You bear some responsibility. It is a tragedy.

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As Chicago's longest-serving mayor, Richard M. Daley filed a $433 million lawsuit against the gun industry, only to have it dismissed by the state Supreme Court.

UPDATED....

SPRINGFIELD-Rep. Jim Sacia has become an Internet celebrity.

During Tuesday's long House debate on concealed-carry legislation, the Republican from far northwestern Illinois made an analogy that tied together guns and castration in one fell swoop.

Now, a YouTube video of his floor speech has drawn more than 14,000 views, and one top black lawmaker condemned Sacia's remarks as the "most offensive statement" he'd heard.

"I have heard only positives," Sacia told the Chicago Sun-Times Thursday, when asked the reaction he has gotten since his speech. "My secretary in Freeport got one call from a lady in Chicago who insists I have a mental problem, but I would have expected that from someone in Chicago. The feedback has been unbelievably positive."

Spending seven hours on the House floor Tuesday, House members on both sides of the gun divide clashed heatedly while voting up or down on more than a dozen amendments to a concealed-carry bill carried by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

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Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk is helped up the US Capitol steps by Vice President Joe Biden (2nd from right) and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (left), U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is at far right, as many other Senators line the Capital steps on Thursday morning January 3, 2013. | Jon Sall~Sun-Times

When Illinois' junior Sen. Mark Kirk returned to the Senate last month, it was a triumph for friend and foe alike.

On both sides of the aisle, Kirk was applauded after making his climb back up the Capitol steps to return to office - ne easy task, as Lynn Sweet reported on Jan. 4.

Now Sen. Kirk is talking about just how difficult that return was. In an op/ed column he wrote for the Washington Post, Kirk talks about the struggle it's been since his stroke - the fear he felt the day it hit, the fight to get back and how he's changed as a person and a senator as a result of being stricken.

Kirk, who writes that he was always a "glass half empty guy," before his stroke says he's become much more positive and optimistic as a result of surviving not only the stroke, but the rehabilitation:

I'm different from what I was. My left leg and left arm might never work like they once did, but my mind is sharp. I'm capable of doing the work entrusted to me by the people of Illinois, but I am forever changed.

By Natasha Korecki
Political Reporter
@natashakorecki

U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) proposed the first bipartisan gun safety legislation of the new Congress on Wednesday taking aim at traffickers and the flow of illegal weapons.

The proposal would for the first time make gun trafficking a federal crime, which would presumably carry higher penalties consistent with federal convictions. As part of the new bill, it would be a federal crime for someone to "sell or otherwise transfer" weapons to another person knowing "or have reasonable cause to believe" that the person they're buying it for cannot legally own it. It also bans someone from the "purchase or otherwise acquire" two or more firearms knowing that just by receiving it they are breaking the law. The bill also makes it a federal crime to provide false information on an ATF firearms transaction form, which targets straw purchasers.
The new bill comes as a major gun safety hearing is to take place before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, with expected testimony from former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt, and National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre.
Kirk, who returned to work in the Senate earlier this month after having a stroke a year ago, is also working on legislation with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) to expand background checks, according to a Kirk staffer.
Kirk is a long-time backer of a ban on assault weapons, the most controversial of gun control proposals, but his current legislative efforts are focused elsewhere.
Law enforcement sources told the Sun-Times earlier this month that an assault weapons ban would do little for Chicago, where such a ban has been on the books for decades yet murders topped 500 last year and violence continues to rage through the City.
More important, law enforcement says, is to focus on a large number of firearms that land in the hands of criminals through straw purchasing in the suburbs and other states.

Currently, no federal laws specifically outlaw straw purchasing, in which people with clean backgrounds buy guns for crooks.

Straw purchasers typically face probation for paperwork violations. A real threat of prison could put a chokehold on the practice, the sources said.

Even gang bangers are aware that federal charges routinely bring lengthy, serious sentences.

Vice President Joe Biden is hosting a Google+ hangout roundtable on gun violence. Watch below.

ronald_reagan_riding_a_velociraptor_by_sharpwriter-d55rsh7.jpg Image by SharpWriter

God means for us to do a lot of things, including the stuff that contradicts the other stuff. For instance, if what Republican California legislator Tom Donnelly says is true, God always intended for Americans to have guns. Donnelly called into a Christian-themed radio talk show on AM740 KBRITE to express his opposition to Pres. Obama's recent gun control proposals and said:

"Guns are used an average of 3 million times a year according to the Clinton Justice Department," Assemblyman Tim Donnelly told the Christian talk radio show The Bottom Line on Wednesday. "That's like 6,900 times a day. That's the high end of the statistics, other people say it's only 200 times a day."

"Whatever that number is, they are used to defend human life," he explained. "They are used to defend our property and our families and our faith and our freedom, and they are absolutely essential to living the way God intended for us to live."[..]

"All [Obama's] plan will do is make it more costly and more difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Constitutional right," the assemblyman said. "We must hold criminals, not inanimate steel objects, accountable for their actions.

As The Huffington Post points out, this isn't the first time gun advocates have used scripture in the gun control argument in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings:

An ordained Episcopal priest, Hall presides over an institution that Congress has designated as the National House of Prayer. But in Sunday's sermon, [Rev. Gary] Hall placed the Cathedral in a rare position at the center of a contentious political debate. "If we are truly America's 'National' Cathedral, as we say we are, then we must become the focal point of faithful advocacy of gun control, calling our leaders to courageous action and supporting them as they take it," Hall said.


Donnelly made no mention of Jesus ever using an automatic weapon nor did he say God created guns as a means by which Adam and Eve defended themselves against fascist dinosaurs but who are we to question a man who once tried to take a gun and bullets on an airplane? He's just trying to keep us safe.

Here's how U.S. lawmakers from Illinois stand on gun control

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The Sun-Times reached out to numerous congressional lawmakers after President Obama's far-reaching proposal to overhaul gun laws. Here's what some of them had to say and how the NRA has rated them.
The NRA is one of the most powerful lobbies in the nation, pouring some $68 million in contributions and lobbying efforts onto Congress since 1990.

Here's what some Illinois congresspeople had to say:

Brad Schneider (D-IL):
NRA Rating: F
Schneider supports assault weapons ban, ban on high-capacity magazines and universal background checks. Schneider said of Obama's proposals: " I encourage all of my fellow Members of Congress to act immediately to help turn these recommendations into law."

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL): supports assault weapons ban and ban on high-capacity magazines. The veteran who enjoys target practice owns a FOID card but ont a weapon. She hopes to be a "calm voice" on gun reform.
NRA Rating: F

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
NRA Rating: F
Supports assault weapons ban, ban on high capacity magazines and universal background checks. Believes the country should "seize the moment" on gun reform.

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock: (R-IL)
NRA Rating: 92 Percent
"Congressman Schock has been a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. Most gun control efforts end up penalizing law abiding citizens, while some of the areas with the strongest gun control laws have the highest crime such as Washington, DC and Chicago," a statement from his office said. "The White House Task Force, led by Vice President Joe Biden, just announced their new proposals on gun laws for Congress to consider. If the Senate passes a bill, Congressman Schock will review it with an open mind."

U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam: (R-IL)
NRA Rating: 92 Percent
"The tragedy in Newtown has brought into sharp focus the need for action to prevent future atrocities. Improvements need to be made to prevent criminals and unstable individuals from obtaining weapons in the first place--that is why I have previously supported improvements to the National Instant Background Check System, and voted to increase the program's funding," Roskam said in a statement. "It is also vital that any action must be holistic, taking into account improvements in mental health, school safety, and discussing violence in our culture."

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
NRA Rating: 0
Told the Sun-Times in an interview he supports an assault weapons ban.
"Senator Kirk believes we need to take a sensible and comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence in our society," said his spokesman, Lance Trover. "He looks forward to working with his Senate colleagues and other stakeholders to have a thoughtful and open dialogue about all the systematic problems that lead to violence."

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
NRA Rating: 0 percent
Comment: "I strongly support the President's comprehensive proposal, which also includes important school safety, law enforcement, and mental health resources. The President has done his part. Now it is time for Congress to do our part. As the President urged today, we must reinstate a Federal Assault Weapons Ban, in order to protect our children. We must pass laws to ban assault magazines."

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL)
NRA Rating: 0
"The President's proposals represent the type of commonsense gun control policies that most Americans want, including gun owners. When you put a 30 round clip in an assault weapon, you're not hunting deer, you are hunting people."