Gun rights activists from across Illinois were in Springfield Wednesday, asking lawmakers to ease restrictions on where they're allowed to carry concealed weapons.
"Gun-free zones are killing zones," the crowd chanted in the Capitol rotunda. Hundreds of advocates marched to the Statehouse to rally for their Second Amendment rights. Among them was Sharon Mausey of Crab Orchard, in far southern Illinois. She says receiving her concealed carry license on Tuesday was a long-awaited dream come true.
"It made me feel wonderful," she said. "It felt really good to concealed carry in our own state."
But, she says, the restrictions on carrying weapons — like in restaurants, or on public transit — make her feel unsafe, especially as a woman.
"There's just no way that women can usually go up against a male attacker, you know, just body size, body strength — women are just not equal to men," she said. "The right to carry and to be able to protect ourselves in that way kind of equalizes us against attackers."
Illinois' new law allows people to carry guns in public, with the exception of 23 categories of locations. While some lawmakers wish to cut down on that list, there are others who want more areas to be gun-free.