Governor Scott Walker signed a measure a few weeks ago to allow residents to carry concealed firearms in public, it left neighboring Illinois
as the only state that does not.
Sensing an opportunity, Second Amendment supporters in Illinois are using the state's newfound distinction to dial up the pressure on Governor Pat Quinn and lawmakers.
" Exceptionalism can often be a positive thing, but in this case it is a mark of shame," five members of the state's congressional delegation wrote in a recent letter to Illinois leaders. "It is time for the Illinois legislature to act and permit Illinoisans to join the rest of the nation in their ability to carry concealed weapons for self-defense."
An effort to authorize concealed-carry failed by six votes in the state House of Representatives earlier this year, and it is unclear whether it had enough support in the state Senate anyway, according to Lee Newspapers
. More importantly, Quinn opposes concealed-carry, saying it would make the public less safe, though supporters argue the opposite, claiming that law-abiding residents should have the means to defend themselves if they wish.
Gun-rights supporters are also taking their argument to the courts, as Illinois Statehouse News explains . A pair of lawsuits in federal court accuse Illinois of violating the Second Amendment's individual right to carry firearms by denying residents concealed-carry authority.
In Illinois and elsewhere, the subject of gun control is becoming less of the traditional Democratic-Republican wedge issue it once was. Prominent lawmakers from both parties — including President Obama — regularly voice support for the Second Amendment, and Democrats and Republicans alike signed the recent congressional letter to Illinois leaders.
Instead, the debate is increasingly breaking down along urban-rural lines, with city lawmakers favoring tighter gun controls and rural legislators opposing them. That divide has also been front-and-center in Illinois, where politicians from Chicago- where rates of gun violence are high — wield considerable power in the legislature.