Illinois 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."