The Illinois House has approved a bill that would keep private the names of state gun owners, as lawmakers battle to prevent the attorney general from opening up those files to the public.

The bill passed Friday on a 98-12 vote and heads next to the Senate. It was drafted in response to opinions from state Attorney General Lisa Madigan saying the state police should release the official list identifying all firearm permit holders in response to a reporter's Freedom of Information Act request.

Madigan's office has argued that there is a "public interest" in releasing the information, citing the example of an individual who may have become ineligible to carry. Her staff has argued the public interest outweighs any privacy concerns and instructed the records to be released.

However, the state police, who safeguard that information, have resisted, and some lawmakers have tried to change the law so they won't have to comply.

Republican state Rep. Richard Morthland, the sponsor of the bill, told FoxNews.com the dispute will probably be resolved legislatively.

"(Madigan's) job is to interpret the law. Our job is to make the policy," he said.

Gun-rights advocates have raised concern that publishing the names of gun owners would pose a safety risk -- since it could be used to determine which people don't own weapons.

Morthland said there are "problems" with the identification system and that reporters have "legitimate reasons" for wanting information about it.

"But that doesn't mean you should give out the private information of individual citizens who are complying with the law," he said.

Morthland said he's pushing for an audit of the system which could be shared with the press.

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