Concealed carry bill raises concern for Oak Park officials

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley said he believes "Illinois held out as long as it could" as the last state in the country to prohibit concealed carry of handguns.

That doesn't mean, however, that the police veteran isn't without worry about the new legislation that could soon be hitting the books if passed into law in Springfield.

"I just think it's an issue of public concern," Tanksley said in an interview Tuesday. "Especially for law enforcement officers trying to carry out their duties. …It's something we'll have to deal with."

Although Gov. Pat Quinn spoke in strong opposition to the concealed-gun bill last week, the Illinois House passed the bill with an 85-30 vote. It was being discussed in executive session Tuesday mid-day, with an alternative proposal also on the docket. The law as presented would allow for the carrying of concealed weapons and would overturn Cook County's assault weapon ban. It also trumps the decisions of home rule communities, which Oak Park falls under, and limits what they can prohibit in terms of local gun safety regulation.

Locally, Tanksley said it's important to review what public places people with permits would be able to carry guns, which could include restaurants, stores and possibly municipal buildings. Current negotiations include prohibitions on carrying guns in a number of places, including schools, childcare facilities, playgrounds, public parks, airports, libraries, hospitals, bars and public transit. The public transportation element, however, has been a talking point.

The legislation currently being debated in Springfield was prompted by a federal appeals court order that gives lawmakers until June 9 to devise regulations about where firearms could be carried in public. Until that decision is made or the law is enacted, Oak Park leaders will have to wait. Still, discussions among Tanksley and the village manager and village attorney are expected to occur this week.

"The village's handgun ordinance remains under review, as it has since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling," Tanksley wrote in an email. Last week's vote is a factor as Oak Park would have to sync local and state law, but it's unsure what revisions would need to be made yet.

"Such an important public health and safety issue necessarily will entail a board level policy discussion. It is my hope that there also will be a community discussion. We also will be monitoring how other local governments, including Chicago, address the issue of handguns," Tanksley wrote.

He said the handgun issue remains a top priority in Oak Park and will be a topic of conversations before any local ordinance is re-written.

"We have to make sure that whatever action is taken, it addresses the community's concerns in a way that not only will be effective but also will stand up to a court challenge," he said.

Oak Park's history on handgun regulation dates back to 1985 when village voters approved a law banning handguns. The ban was overturned in 2010 when the U.S. Supreme Court called the action unconstitutional. The case resulted in the National Rifle Association, being granted more than $1.7 million in legal fees from Oak Park and the City of Chicago. This fee was eventually paid entirely by Chicago due to an agreement between the municipalities.

Locally the concealed carry law could mean additional training for officers to remind them of the change. Tanksley said officers are always taught to be prepared for potential threats, but this law would call for additional awareness on the officers' part.

"It may just mean additional reminders just to make sure [their] antennas are always up. They have to be aware that anyone can now be in possession of a handgun."

As police chief, Tanksley said his job is to simply carry out whatever law is enacted, so he's not taking a stance one way or another on the concealed carry bill. But he still has concerns, he said.

Sen. Don Harmon (D.-Oak Park) and Quinn, however, have voiced strong opposition against the recently passed house bill.

"I am very troubled by the bill that came out of the house last week. It's an unnecessary overreach of local control," Harmon said in a phone interview between Senate discussions. That current bill, along with a proposed compromise were being discussed mid-day Tuesday in executive committee, Harmon said.

Harmon said the proposed compromise comes with a more "sensible" approach to the concealed carry debate. The proposal gives local law enforcement more time to object to a concealed carry permit and provides further restrictions on where people can carry guns, such as establishments that serve alcohol.

"It is certainly less demanding than I would have preferred at the onset of the debate, but it strikes me as more fair than the court decisions," Harmon said. He supported the idea of banning guns in places that serve alcohol, especially in his hometown of Oak Park where many restaurants would fall into that category.

"I don't think I would want to be worrying about who is carrying a weapon while I'm at dinner," he said.

Although the state was directed to enact a concealed carry permit law, Harmon said the house bill "went far beyond the directive," and stripped away power from local municipalities regarding firearms. For example, under the proposed law, Oak Park cannot prohibit assault weapons and could not prevent gun shops.

Quinn agreed the bill was a "massive overreach" and made his point clear in a statement last week when he vowed to help stop its passage as currently written. His office filed an official opposition last week.

"The legislation is wrong for Illinois. It was wrong [Thursday] in committee, it's wrong today, and it's wrong for the future of public safety in our state." he wrote. "The principle of home rule is an important one. As written, this legislation is a massive overreach that would repeal critical gun safety ordinances in Chicago, Cook County, and across Illinois. We need strong gun safety laws that protect the people of our state. Instead, this measure puts public safety at risk. I will not support this bill and I will work with members of the Illinois Senate to stop it in its tracks."

Check out this week as updates of the legislation become available.

Email: Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Posted: December 5th, 2013 10:18 AM

NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde & sponsor Brandon Phelps betrayed Otis McDonald & everyone in Chicago w/ Duty to Inform. Police impersonators like John Gacy, off-duty & plainclothes will have legal cover to kill any licensed citizen they run into & get away with it. Vandermyde worked for William Dugan at the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers local 150 in Countryside, B4 Dugan was convicted by the US Attorney in 2010. Why do Chris Cox & Chuck Cunningham at NRA/ILA employ an unsavory traitor?

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 1st, 2013 8:33 AM

This whole gun control issue is being approached without ever defining exactly what is the problem and who are the problem individuals. Are the sports shooting participants the problem? NEVER! Are the hunters the problem? NEVER! Are the people who choose to be able to defend their house and family the problem? not likely! Gang bangers the problem ? You bet! Convicted felons the problem? Absolutely! drug dealers and traffickers the problem? Yes! young adults who resolve differences by killing one another the problem? obviously yes! Mentally ill people who can be a menace to society the problem? Probably! So now we see who are the problem groups and we should focus our effort toward keeping guns away from them. As I recall those groups are already prohibited from not only owning, but, picking up, handling or just possessing a firearm. That is already existing federal and state law - just not enforced to the maximum. the eventual aim is to keep guns out of the hands of bad people - not support politicians who make laws for a living and promise us that if we send them back to congress " that next law we will pass will resolve the worlds problems" Fool me once - shame on you, fool me umpteen times shame on me - - -again! All of the solutions we hear from Washington and Springfield about background checks, magazine capacity, registration, assault weapons etc. etc. etc does absolutely nothing to solve the real problem. if you go to the emergency room with a broken leg and they put a band-aide on the bridge of your nose - they did something, without ever determining the real problem. We are in the process of mandating new laws without any concern for the solution to the problem or who it will hurt.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 31st, 2013 1:34 PM

Gail - I don't recall either Hedges or Anan addressing concealed weapons during the campaign. Are you trying to stir something up in your post to Adam Wallace?


Posted: May 31st, 2013 12:41 PM

This is where the liberals need to take their own advice and "take a look at the science" so to speak. Every other state has CC, some have had it for ages. Gun crime, contrary to what so many think, is at its lowest point in decades. Obviously society did not turn into the Wild Wild West. I think we'll be okay.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 31st, 2013 12:32 PM

@ Mr Zeh - You could look up the data from all 49 states who have CCP's. i am not aware of any state where things got worse and most report positive results. The o.K. corral idea is just made up crap thrown out to scare those who don't know better. The controls on CCp applications preclude crazies and nuts from getting guns. They still get them but don't bother with the law.

Mr. Borderman from Oak Park   

Posted: May 31st, 2013 2:37 AM

Well, goodness gracious me, we just know the NRA won't rest until every church, classroom, and hospital is just lousy with loaded weapons. I mean, what could go wrong? Of course, we can hope that the "bad guys" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) will seek more "furtile [sic] grounds", as one dogged poster has declared. Maybe all the derivatives traders who've moved into Oak Park will be beating a hasty retreat. After all, they're about as dangerous as you can get, with or without a loaded gun.

Gail Moran from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 30th, 2013 10:57 PM

Adam: Stay tuned to the events on the 900 block of N Taylor and then tell me how concealed carry is a good thing. Hope the candidate that you supported doesn't share your views.

Robert Zeh from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: May 30th, 2013 2:43 PM

Ok, gun control advocates and 2nd amendment supporters, here is your chance. Let's hear some concrete, measurable predictions about what will get worse or better once concealed carry becomes the law. Feel free to normalize against other statistics. For example, you could make some predictions about how many police officers get shot by concealed carry permit holders. Or you could make predictions about murder rates normalized against Indiana's. But let's make some concrete claims and see how they turn out in a year's time.

Adam Wallace from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 30th, 2013 2:12 AM

In the court opinion authored on December 11 the court wrote that "But a Chicagoan is a good deal more likely to be attacked on a sidewalk in a rough neighborhood than in his apartment on the 35th floor of the Park Tower. A woman who is being stalked or has obtained a protective order against a violent ex-husband is more vulnerable to being attacked while walking to or from her home than when inside. She has a stronger self-defense claim to be allowed to carry a gun in public". How is the state legislature discussing a ban on concealed carry on public transit or in public parks? The idea of the court ruling is obvious, citizens ought to be able to protect themselves in public. We all have friends or family that have been accosted on the CTA or the streets of Oak Park. Concealed carry needs to be extended to all public places. Those that are concerned that concealed carry will lead to more violent crime are wrong. Violent criminals are not going to take the time to apply for a permit to carry a weapon, there willingness to commit a crime demonstrates that they won't follow any gun laws. Concealed carry provides a way for law abiding citizens to carry a weapon. The state government needs to fall in line with federal court rulings. Oak Park's village government ought to do the same. We can't afford more pointless lawsuits with the NRA or federal government. The Village needs to adjust its regulations to follow the ideas of the 7th Court of Appeals.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 11:46 PM

@JBM - I stated my case and gave the source. You claim that my reference is all wrong without offering any study or research of your own. If Donohugh is your proof remember he has been proven to make up numbers to prove his point. The fact you cannot dispute is that 49 states have concealed carry, some for decades, and not one has repealed the law. Why are we so stupid to believe we have an insight into truth and every other state is wrong.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 10:19 PM

Simpson - The Kleck Study was written in 1992, more than twenty years ago. It has been debunked by all with the exception of the NRA. You need to improve your library.


Posted: May 29th, 2013 7:47 PM

@JBM "Fact is though I have never heard of a legal gun carrier using their gun to defend themselves or others on the CTA at night. " That is because you have not been able to legally carry on CTA. The other thing is that you only really hear about defensive gun use when someone is actually shot.

Hey Scott  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 7:35 PM

There are people whose lives have been saved because they had a gun to protect themselves. You don't have the convenience to stop and ask a bad guy can they just rape you but leave you alive or can they just take your belongings but not physically hurt you. I don't want to be harsh but the whole point of them victimizing you is overriding your control for their benefit. People want to carry so they don't need to wonder are you only taking my car or will you kill my family...I prefer neither.

Hey Scott  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 7:29 PM

Here is an example why people want concealed weapons: I never owned a gun despite growing up in a rough neighborhood etc. I got married and moved back into a rough neighborhood because that's what we could afford. People kept getting robbed in our building when they went to and from the parking lot. Over and over. Finally about a year or two later, someone tried to rob my next door neighbor in broad daylight. He shot one guy and the other guy preferred to wait for the police to get there.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 7:11 PM

@ JBM Gary Kleck did a study back in 1997 that determined that guns deter crimes 2.5 million times per year. He and John Lott have repeated this study several times in recent years and the numbers remain consistent. The study universe was several thousand incidents so the numbers have remained statistically valid. I do own a couple of target pistols and have no intention of applying for concealed carry. I just don't want people to deny me the right because they cower in fear.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 5:40 PM

Maybe I was over the top when I said people should be alert, but that is a rule I follow particularly when out at night ?" anywhere! My comment had to do with the CTA scare comment; not concealed weapons. I do not have a gun, do not plan on getting one, and have no bias to those that legally carry a gun. Fact is though I have never heard of a legal gun carrier using their gun to defend themselves or others on the CTA at night.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 5:38 PM

@ Scott - I believe you have to demonstrate that your life was in jeopardy and there was no other option ( Zimmerman v Martin). The positive aspect is that no one knows who is able to defend themselves and who is not. That question makes a lot of bad people seek more furtile grounds.

B from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 5:24 PM

@ John, I agree that the CTA is not the most dangerous place on earth, but I suspect he was just making a point, no? You support that by saying one should be alert. You sharing that you haven't had an incident with "all your traveling" on all the different lines at night means very little to all the people who do experience incidents. With a conceal carry law, you can continue to not carry, but for those seeking personal safety, they can choose otherwise.

Scott from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 5:20 PM

@Ray - Thanks for the numbers, definitely less than I thought it would be. However, I think it's naive to think the law will prevail in defensive situations. For example, someone grabs me in an attempt to rob me, I struggle away and shoot and kill them. There are no witnesses. What happens? I'm open to hearing why people are for concealed carry, other than it being their constitutional right.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 3:37 PM

@Scott - The 49 CC states report about 3-4.5% of citizens apply for permits. A small number! The rules for defensive use of a firearm are specific and many. Get outside of that window of allowed circumstances and the law will come down on you. Remember the permit comes with training, background checks and knowledge of the law. Bad people don't get CCP's - they just pack.

Scott from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 3:14 PM

For the liberal bashes - Although I can't speak for others, I don't think most liberals are suggesting concealed carry will turns things into the Wild West. We are suggesting that citizens carrying guns will lead to more altercations resulting in deaths. Although I hate scumbags who rob people, I don't believe they deserve to be shot and possibly killed. Allowing a citizen to determine when it's appropriate to shoot someone can and will lead us down a dangerous path.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 3:02 PM

Jeff - If you traveled throughout the world, you know that the CTA is not "the most dangerous place in the world". I have used the Red, Green, and Blue lines late at night and have never encountered an incident. Yes, I do not carry a gun. The CTA at Night is a place to be alert, not a place to be fearful.

Jeff Hoebing from Quincy  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 1:54 PM

I am a retired Army Officer. Could have retired anywhere in the world. I chose to return to Illinois (I question why everyday...). As a retired LEO I too carry a concealed firearm anywhere in the USA. Sad fact is we need all firepower on the streets of our cities to protect our freedoms I have already fought defending. At 10pm at night a Chicago transit train is one of the most dangerous places on earth.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 1:42 PM

So how many murders/crimes are committed by concealed carry permit holders? Since something like 80% shooters & victims have criminal records and known gang bangers, I don't think concealed carry gun owners are the issue...nothing like those pesky facts to mess up a liberal argument.


Posted: May 29th, 2013 12:39 PM

Duty to Inform (DTI) was placed in Phelps bill by NRA contract lobbyist Todd Vandermyde NOT the Chicago Machine. Any cop off duty, out of uniform or a police impersonator can approach a citizen and they must volunteer that they are armed. If the cop lies and says you did not inform, they can arrest and charge with 6 mo. or 1 yr. in jail! NRA likes to use Chicago folks like Otis McDonald for lawsuits. Too bad if folks in Chicago get set up and murdered by cops like Jon Burge. Thanks Todd!

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 11:52 AM

Before we demonize concealed carry we must understand that the reason for it's existence is the total failure of our government to protect us from bad people. If our legal system would take a zero tolerance to armed violence and put violators behind bars we would not need to defend ourselves. Law enforcement does the best it can under the rules, but cannot escort every citizen when they leave home. There is a presumption that you practice personal care and if you need to be in dangerous situations then take precautions. 100 good citizens with concealed carry permits are far less dangerous than 1 punk who wants your stuff!


Posted: May 29th, 2013 9:32 AM

I guess you just don't get it, Anna. The gang bangers on the streets of Oak Park and Chicago are already armed, illegally. Law abiding gun owners who go through rigorous back ground checks and training are not the problem in our society. law abiding gun owners are not breaking out shooting people. Carry Concealed has not caused the wild west in the 49 other states.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 9:15 AM

'Illinois held out as long as it could". Nice to know the chief of police is all for violating the federal civil rights of some of its citizens. Chief didnt mention that retired police officers carry their firearms. Plus elected officials carry concealed ,

New2OP from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 8:18 AM

So sad. Harmon does not get it. People looking to do you harm already have guns. And please do a little research into the Luby's massacre when talking the safety of restaurants. These guys are just on the wrong side of history. Time to switch off the auto-pilot and turn on the logic.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 7:47 AM

the preemption part of the Madigan/Phelps compromise bill (the one that passed the house) contains makes it so that the state legislature sets the laws for firearms throughout the state. This way firearm owners are subject to the same restrictions and the same law wherever they go instead of being subject to various ordinances in each township. With about 120 home rule municipalities in Illinois with local firearms ordinances, it's really easy to inadvertently break a local law while traveling

joe from south oak park  

Posted: May 29th, 2013 7:36 AM

Officers already deal with people possibly carrying weapons and always have. The only difference here is that some folks will be doing so legally. Both bills in the Senate have roughly the same GFZ, but HB183 contains language that would prevent a CCW permit holder from walking through a festival to get home, prohibits carry in any restaurant with a liquor license and makes it harder for a permit holder to safely store a pistol in the trunk of their car when going to a prohibited place.

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