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Illinois GOP Congressman Pushes For Federal Concealed Carry Law

WASHINGTON (CBS) -- Members of the Republican Congressional delegation in Illinois hope to get around state lawmakers' unwillingness to pass concealed carry legislation, by means of federal law.

As WBBM Newsradio's Alex Degman reports, downstate U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) this week introduced the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, HR 3543, which would permit anyone who obtains a permit to carry a concealed weapon in another state to carry weapons legally in Illinois.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Alex Degman reports


In a news release on his Web site, Johnson characterizes carrying concealed weapons as a "constitutional right" that should be guaranteed to all citizens, saying "the Second Amendment could not be more clear on this issue."

He also pointed out that Illinois is the only state that does not have some kind of law on the books permitting concealed carry.

"Overturning this prohibition in Illinois is long-overdue," Johnson said on his Web site. "Law-abiding citizens deserve the right to protect themselves. Over 100 years of Supreme Court rulings and the 14th Amendment guarantee that no state can deny the rights and privileges of any citizen."

Johnson blames Cook County for the fact that concealed carry still is not permitted in Illinois.

"This is not acceptable," he writes.

But Colleen Daley, executive director of the Illinois Council against Handgun Violence, says such a measure would strip Illinois of its right to protect its citizens.

"You've got states like Arizona and Florida where you essentially mail in an application for a concealed carry permit," she said. "You want people like that coming into our state, with no laws to protect them?"

But the National Rifle Association supports the measure. It says the constitutional right to keep and bear arms does not end at state lines, and the so-called "doom and gloom" predictions from anti-gun groups haven't panned out.

"We've heard this same howling hysterics from the gun ban groups 20 years ago when the right to carry movement started gaining momentum," said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam,. "They predicted gun fights at the OK Corral at high noon, and none of those predictions have come to pass."

HR 3543 is similar to another measure, HR 822, which passed the House but hasn't been heard in the Senate. The difference here, say supporters, is Illinois residents would be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in their home state.

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