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House Committee OKs Concealed Carry Proposal

UPDATED 03/09/11 9:04 a.m.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- A proposal to allow Illinois residents to carry concealed weapons has made it out of House committee in Springfield on Tuesday and was headed for a full House vote.

As CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reports, the House Agriculture Committee, a panel dominated by downstate pro-gun rights lawmakers, voted 12-2 Tuesday in favor of allowing local county sheriffs to issue concealed carry permits to people 21 and over who have gone through training courses.

Such proposals have always been controversial and stirred up a lot of emotion at the state capitol when discussed before. And for it or against it, many people said they believe this time around, the concealed carry movement might have some legs in Springfield.

But others have said it will have a difficult time passing in the full House, which is controlled by Democrats, many of whom are from the Chicago area.

A year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city of Chicago's handgun ban, handing a major victory to gun rights advocates, those groups want to take gun ownership a step further in Illinois.

The proposal that passed through committee on Tuesday would allow legal licensed gun owners to carry a weapon outside of their home.

Gun shop owner Don Mastrianni said he believes a concealed weapons are fine, "if you know how to use it and you're doing it to protect yourself."

Mastrianni has owned Illinois Gun Works in Elmwood Park for nine years. He said he recognizes concealed carry is a hot trigger issue and he said his support isn't motivated by the bottom line.

"By no means do I think everybody should have a gun," he said.

But those testifying in favor of the bill on Tuesday took a more passionate view.

Valinda Rowe said she became a concealed carry advocate after her family was terrorized by a mentally disturbed stalker.

Asked what she would have done had she been able to carry a gun, Rowe said, "I think I wouldn't have been terrified to leave my own home to go to work. I wouldn't have been terrified every time I went out to the store."

But opponents of concealed carry are still very loud and very vocal.

Rev. Michael Pfleger has long sought stricter gun laws in Illinois, saying he's convinced an armed population would only mean more violence.

"Do I want to wonder who's got a gun on them and who doesn't?" he said, "particularly today, where we see guns being used in so much, just (as the) first line of offense."

Meanwhile, the City of Chicago is still holding firm on its position against conceal and carry legislation.

Samantha Fields of Mayor Richard M. Daley's office said the city is standing by the ordinance it implemented last year to allow residents to have handguns in their homes.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780's Alex Degman reports


The ordinance replaced a citywide ban on handgun ownership that dated back to 1982, but was rendered unenforceable by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the McDonald v. Chicago case.

"The Second Amendment only protects a right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense, and that wide variety of gun laws are constitutionally permissible," Fields said.

The ordinance enacted last year limits gun purchases to one per month, bans gun shops in city limits and prohibits gun owners from stepping outside their homes, even onto their porches or garages.

A concealed carry proposal got House committee approval in 2009 but it was never called for a floor vote.

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