The gun owners lobby is close to getting a floor debate in the Illinois legislature on its goal of allowing residents to carry concealed handguns, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Illinois and Wisconsin are the only two states that outlaw it. Gun control advocates are firing back with bills to create new restrictions on the sale and transfer of those guns. The trigger for the surge in gun-related political activity seems to have been last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban.
A key difference in Illinois this year is backing for the concealed-carry bill from the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, which has previously stayed out of the debate. “I think it will reduce crime,” said St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl Justus, who was among the association members voting to back the idea. He said he had changed his mind about his earlier concerns that concealed weapons were an intrinsic danger. “I used to feel that way, but 48 states can’t be wrong.” A gun-control advocate says that argument clashes with common sense: “If I’m walking down the street, and the neighbor across the street is carrying a loaded 9 millimeter with a 15-round clip, that doesn’t make me feel safer.”