I've been hoping this could be resolved without resorting to publicly "outing" the NRA, but they were told that this press release would be going out, and they weren't willing to make a change. I want the NRA on our side in Illinois, and that means I want them to commit themselves to supporting License-To-Carry legislation no matter who wrote it. Please read this whole thing carefully before you make any phone calls or send any emails.
With friends like these - who needs enemies . . .
NRA Lobbied Against License to Carry Bill in IL
A little background first. For the past decade and a half license-to-carry bills introduced in the IL General Assembly have become routine and hold little to no expectation of passing due to opposition from the Chicago/Cook Co. legislators. That opposition means every year the same old bills calling for statewide preemption which would force the carry law into Chicago guarantees the bill is dead on arrival. A bill or two may make the headlines but never to the floor for a vote largely due to the opposition of Mayor Daley and Cook County legislators. The likelihood of a statewide preemption bill being passed is greatly reduced by the fact that bills preempting home rule status require 71 votes for passage rather than a simple majority of 60. Double or triple that reduction by the fact that in Chicago it is illegal to even own a handgun let alone carry one for self-defense purposes. We find it somewhat ludicrous to even consider a statewide preemptive bill passing in the state of Illinois given those circumstances.
Other states like Ohio and Nebraska faced years of major opposition like this. They finally won their battle by passing a carry law which we in Illinois would call "subject to home rule". An imperfect bill that allowed major cities to opt out but did provide a means for license-to-carry to get a foothold in the state. Pro-Second Amendment groups in Ohio were then able to prove carrying firearms for self-defense works and they came back in just a few short years and successfully expanded the law to include everyone. Nebraska, just two short years after passing their license-to-carry bill now has statewide preemption according to their state's Attorney General and are now working to amend their law.
With those recent successes in mind many license-to-carry supporters in Illinois were very excited when down state Representative Brandon Phelps courageously decided it was time to try the same strategy in Illinois - how about a bill that would require only a simple majority of 60 votes, would provide an opportunity for license-to-carry to get a foot in the door, something similar to what has been so successful in Ohio and Nebraska . . . how about a "subject to home rule" bill which would allow home rule municipalities to opt out if they so chose but citizens in the vast majority of the state would be free to exercise their constitutional right to keep and bear arms? The Citizens Self-defense Act, HB 2257, was born.
Keeping in mind a statewide preemptive law is the ultimate goal, IllinoisCarry members, including members residing in municipalities sure to ban the practice, have given their full support to the idea of subject to home rule carry and believe the premise behind it is the best hope of getting any kind of license-to-carry bill passed in the state of Illinois.
HB2257 started off with good promise, the sponsor reported he felt sure he could garner the 60 votes needed to pass it out of the House. So it came as a huge shock and disappointment to learn from legislators that the NRA was actually lobbying against it.
When contacted by lllinoisCarry the NRA-ILA lobbyist confirmed the NRA-ILA was indeed lobbying against the bill and vowed to kill it. The reason given for the opposition was that the bill did not include statewide preemption, that it would create a patchwork of ordinances all across the state which could be detrimental to license holders, and it would ultimately be vetoed by Gov. Quinn and still need 71 votes for a veto override. Therefore we should continue to wait and work toward a change in the political makeup of the IL legislature.
IllinoisCarry maintains that statewide preemption didn't pass even when we did have a more favorable party in office and continuing to wait for countless more years will only result in more defenseless victims being violently assaulted and murdered. Citizens in the rest of the state where license to carry is being welcomed should not be denied the right to defend themselves just because other municipalities choose to infringe on their citizens' rights.
Furthering the argument for a subject to home rule bill like HB2257, IllinoisCarry is confident it will lead to statewide preemption as it has in Ohio and Nebraska. IL firearm owners already have to work within a patchwork of city ordinances concerning firearms and a look at the listing of city ordinances on the Illinois State Police website would verify that fact. Although Gov. Quinn may very well veto the bill, we will never know that if every such bill is killed by the NRA-ILA without a good hard push for passage.
We need the NRA-ILA and their hardworking lobbyists on the IL Second Amendment team. But we differ greatly on this issue of denying an opportunity for a subject to home rule bill to come to a vote. The NRA-ILA lobbyist for Illinois is one of the best in the country and has been invaluable in the battle to curtail bad gun bills in the state of Illinois. We recognize a lobbyist must follow the bidding of the organization they represent. We have been assured by him that if the NRA-ILA changes their stance on the issue to one of support then he will support the issue also.
Now after weeks of conversation with the NRA-ILA, their leadership team has temporarily changed their position from opposition to neutral while they claim to study the issue. It is our opinion a subject to home rule license-to-carry bill will not advance in Illinois without the support of the NRA-ILA. We need the NRA to SUPPORT subject to home rule carry in Illinois.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? LOBBY THE NRA!
If you are an NRA member, resident of Illinois, visit Illinois, or even travel through Illinois please call the numbers below - REMEMBER BE POLITE BUT FIRM- and tell them you want their support for subject to home rule license-to-carry in Illinois. If you are a resident of Chicago or any other municipality that might exercise the right to "opt out" of concealed carry, assure the NRA-ILA that you know the most effective and expeditious way to get concealed carry into your area is to get it into the rest of the state first. Do not let them get caught up in HB2257 specifically - bills can be amended, it's the issue of subject to home rule we want them to support.
Contact the following NRA-ILA leadership team:
Assist. Ex. Dir.
ILA-State and Local Affairs