Student senator proposes concealed carry restriction to Illinois Legislature

The Illinois Student Senate brought legislation to restrict concealed carry on Illinois college campuses to an Illinois General Assembly judiciary committee hearing Tuesday.

Student senator Christopher Dayton, senior in LAS, brought proposed changes to a concealed carry law to a House Judiciary hearing but was unable to testify. He said no individuals, other than those representing special interest group, were able to testify.

The General Assembly is currently holding hearings on the issue in the wake of a federal court decision that rejected the state’s concealed-carry ban in December and demanded the Illinois Legislature adopt some form of firearms possession law. 

In his proposal, Dayton included letters of recommendation from the Illinois Student Senate, the mayors of Champaign and Urbana, the Urbana student trustee and three private certified housing managers. 

Dayton’s proposal seeks a framework for universities to restrict concealed firearm carry on their property. It would also allow cities in areas with a high student population to also enforce bans on concealed carry. In addition, Dayton’s proposal allows for similar restrictions in any university or community college certified housing.

Greek and non-Greek houses would be required to follow a chartered policy on concealed carry created by their associated institution.

“The whole intent ... is the ability for us to not only tailor a policy that will fit our university and provide other universities that opportunity to tailor their system, but rather also give the ability for us to change it fairly rapidly,” Dayton said. “Approaching the state Legislature can be a very slow and laborious task.”

After the hearing, Dayton approached state Reps. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, and Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, and state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign. Dayton also gave the proposal to several other members of the Judiciary Committee.

Dayton said his next step will be to get in touch with other universities and create a system based on his framework that works for all campuses.

“I’m not trying to create this policy that would directly affect every campus,” he said. “It’s more or less allowing us to, as college students with the unique situations we are in, to work with our local population and to work with our local governments to create a policy that would best fit us.”

He said the more voices that are behind his policy, the more likely it would be included in the final state law on June 10. 

Jessica Koh, freshman in DGS, favors of further campus concealed carry restrictions.

“I understand the reasons and the benefits one could have if one were to carry a concealed weapon, but on some basic level I feel really uncomfortable if I knew that there was a classmate who was carrying a weapon,” she said.

Dayton said it’s important to realize that there are many different interest groups struggling for their language to be included in this legislation, such as the National Rifle Association and the Illinois State Rifle Association. 

“This is a fight, don’t let any student or anyone think that this is not a fight,” he said. “The state was mandated in 180 days to come up with something, and you have a lot of parties who are fighting this and looking for any which way to twist the argument.”

Tyler can be reached at The Associated Press contributed to this report.