Democrats enjoy a supermajority in the Illinois House of Representatives, holding 71 seats to the GOP’s 47. On Wednesday, the same day the US Senate voted down gun control legislation, powerful Democrat Speaker Michael Madigan tried to push a restrictive gun control measure through his chamber. The result was an open revolt by downstate Democrats, with almost half the Democrat caucus joining the GOP to kill the measure. The bill went down 31-76, a rare defeat for the legendary Madigan.
Illinois is currently the only state in the country which doesn’t allow its citizens to have a concealed-carry gun permit. In December 2012, a federal appeals court struck down the state’s ban on concealed-carry permits, effectively ordering the state to enact the gun rights’ permit. The state is under a court-ordered deadline to pass the legislation.
On Wednesday, Dem leadership in the House moved legislation that would put severe restrictions on concealed-carry permits. It would provide that local law enforcement officials “may issue” permits, a provision that would allow local officials to effectively deny citizens in a particular jurisdiction a permit. “Must issue” permits, as long as certain criteria are met, conform more to our 2nd Amendment rights as local officials are not given the power to deny the permits.
My first political job was in the Illinois legislature a life-time ago. Madigan, who is Chair of the IL Democrat party and father to state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, was Speaker then, as well. He is among the more shrewd and calculating political power-brokers in the country. He almost never loses a floor vote.
It is possible, however, that he orchestrated the vote to allow his members from outside Chicago to vote against the measure. It wouldn’t be the first time he allowed the defeat of a progressive policy to protect members of his caucus.
Either way, the Democrat revolt on the gun control measure shows the bad politics around the issue. Even while Obama embraces gun control at the federal level, Democrats in his home state reject them. Unlike Obama, they have to face voters again.