Gun-free zones proposed for Chicago's restaurants

September 6, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The concealed carry law has dissatisfied people on all sides of the issue. A big part of the court-ordered struggle in finding a compromise was all about who ultimately writes the rules? Is it all the state, or can cities and towns tweak the law to suit their own needs?

Alderman Ed Burke thinks the state law is flawed and he wants a Chicago correction.

The new law says you cannot carry a concealed weapon into any tavern or restaurant where 50 percent or more of its revenue comes from liquor, which means that for the neighborhood tavern, no concealed guns inside. That's the law.

But for restaurants where liquor accounts for less than half the business, the law would allow concealed carry inside, unless the owner says no. Some of those owners are already making their intentions clear. No guns.

Alderman Ed Burke argues that booze and bullets don't mix, whatever the venue, and he wants to change the law in Chicago, but in a back-door sort of way.

Burke would require that any dining establishment that sells liquor outright ban concealed carry, or they would run the risk of losing their City of Chicago liquor license.

"What this would do is to mandate that anybody who wants to sell alcoholic beverages would agree that the place where those beverages would be sold would be gun-free," Burke said.

"As much as Alderman Burke wants to stamp his feet and have his little tantrum, it's beyond the power of the city council to regulate this," said NRA's Todd Vandermyde.

The new law in Illinois says that the regulation and licensing of handguns by concealed-carry permit holders are exclusive powers and functions of the state. In other words, local ordinances can't trump state law. The General Assembly wanted uniformity, not a patchwork of rules making concealed carry different from town to town.

But Burke and other council members think it makes more sense to flat out say if a dining establishment sells liquor, no concealed carry. The revenue formula ought not apply.

"We feel that it's constitutional," said Burke.

"The aldermen seem to want to make as many gun-free zones and make it impossible to go about your daily life exercising their fundamental constitutional right," Vandermyde said.

The Burke-led City Council finance committee Friday afternoon endorsed the idea of requiring all liquor selling dining establishments to ban concealed carry. That'll go to the full council and it will most certainly wind up in court with a myriad of other firearm regulation lawsuits.

The concealed carry law is to take effect just after the first of the year.

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