Just because Illinois lawmakers approved concealed carry legislation last month don’t expect residents to legally carry a gun anytime soon.
In fact it may be next year before Illinois gun owners can put a pistol on their hip.
“It all depends on what Gov. Pat Quinn does,” said Todd Vandermyde, a NRA lobbyist who has waited years for Illinois to finally allow law-abiding gun owners to carry a firearm. “He could sign the (legislation), he could veto it, or he could amendatory veto it.”
If the governor signs the legislation, the Illinois State Police would then have 180 days to set up a system to allow concealed carry. Legal gun owners could be carrying a pistol by January 2014.
But it could be spring or even summer 2014 before gun owners could carry in Illinois, if the governor vetoes the proposal, or changes the legislation with an amendatory veto.
Amendatory veto power allows the governor to add or subtract pieces of the legislation as he sees fit. Around the Illinois Capitol amendatory vetoes are often called “rewrites to do right.” Quinn has used that power on legislation dealing with guns in the past.
State lawmakers would have to override the governor’s veto, but the legislature is not scheduled to be back for the fall veto session until late October.
A federal court has extended Illinois’ deadline for concealed carry until July 9; the state had been working under a June 9 deadline.
There is plenty of confusion what would happen if Quinn changes the legislation or asks lawmakers to add new provisions, and the state misses the July 9 deadline.
“No one knows what will happen,” said state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg. “There is just so much uncertainty about what happens after July 9.”
Phelps said if the governor does nothing, gun owners may be able to carry a gun starting July 10.
But it’s unclear what will occur if Quinn changes the legislation with an amendatory veto.
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson is still holding out hope Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan may appeal the original court ruling that struck down Illinois’ concealed weapons ban, and forced the legislature’s hand on a concealed carry law.
Madigan has until June 24 to appeal.
Anderson said the governor is “reviewing the legislation carefully,” but would not elaborate.
But gun owners are still asking when they will be able to carry.
“You are already seeing local state attorneys tell people that they will allow concealed carry on a local level,” Vandermyde said.
Police and prosecutors in two southern Illinois counties, Madison and Randolph, announced recently they would not arrest or prosecute people who carry a weapon if they have a firearms owner ID card, and are not committing a crime.
Vandermyde, though, has a warning for gun owners who want to carry a gun in those counties.
“Enjoy, (but) be careful, and have the number of a good lawyer handy,” he said.
Phelps said the confusion about who can carry a gun, and where is reason enough for the governor to sign the legislation.
“There are going to be more law-abiding gun owners made into criminals,” Phelps said. “Why would (the governor) want to play politics with them?”