In today's Chicago Tribune, there's a front-page article about how the State of Illinois is the only state to not have concealed-carry laws. Now that Wisconsin is on the brink (and I use that phrase deliberately) of passing concealed-carry laws, the pressure for Illinois to follow the herd will increase dramatically.
In full disclosure, I have nothing against guns. I used to own a .357 Magnum. My brother and I would regularly go to target practice and I found that I actually preferred his Browning 9mm - it was easier for me to hold. And I'm a pretty good shot.
But that's not the point. So far, Illinois and Washington, DC are the only places in the US that do not allow concealed-carry. And you know what? I'm ok with that.
Guns are not the problem. People are the problem. I applaud Governor Quinn's veto threat to the bill proposed last month. But it's scary because the legislation only failed to pass by six votes. That's the closest it's come.
I don't want "concealed-carry" laws. Period. There is no up-side to this. I don't care that the law is, according to its Democrat sponsor, "...so watered down that you could only have it on your person walking around or in your own house." It's the walking around part that gives me pause. The bill's "watering down" came down to this:
The bill would have prohibited concealed weapons in bars, restaurants, certain businesses, courtrooms, schools and college campuses. Chicago's ban, overturned by the US Supreme Court, forced the city to rewrite the law to allow weapons to only be kept in the home, not in public. They're banned in garages, front porches, yards, hotels, dorms and group living facilities.
Still... you can carry it. It's not the guns, really. It's truly the people. I can't see that this will help "keep people safe" which is the argument the NRA and other pro-carry people will force down our throats.
Some guy who owns a gun store (go figure) says, "Are 49 states wrong and we're right?"
Well. Yeah, maybe. Ever heard of "groupthink"?? Let's turn this on its head: Just because 49 states have this law, does it mean we have to go along with them? No. Not really.
Guns can only exacerbate an already tense situation. So you've got the gun. (A) do you know how to use it? and (B) do you know WHEN to use it?
And (C) --- are you prepared for the very real consequences? Bullets kill people. Bullets maim people. If your aim is off, "collateral damage" isn't just a video game...it's real.
When I was a criminal justice major, even though my field wasn't law enforcement, we all had to view and participate in the "Shoot, Don't Shoot" program. What an incredible eye-opener.
Of course, we were all in our 20s, studying for what we thought would be our life's work. And we knew ourselves. You can see where this is going, right?? Well, after the experience, our instructor, a former cop from St. Louis, debriefed us. And we knew then: Guns are for real. Bullets are for real. And in 90%+ of the situations presented to us as civilians, we didn't have a clue. We were wrong.
IF concealed-carry passes, then I suggest the following: tighten up the training and requirements. You must recertify every year. You must be licensed. You must have a "waiting period" before the purchase is consummated, so that a complete background check can be done on you. This background check should be nation-wide, not just state-wide -- this prevents someone coming into Illinois with a record as long as my arm, and buying a gun because he or she can waltz into the local gun show or Wal-Mart. And you must carry additional insurance for your home and auto, because if you do do something stupid, the people you harm must have appropriate means of redress.
Of course, I see a whomping new market for insurance companies: "So, you have a gun at home? Are you licensed? Have you been trained? Is your training up to date? If so, your premium is $XX... If NOT, then your premium goes up 50%. Your premium, by the way (on both your home AND auto) will be going up 200% anyway, because you are now a higher risk to us. You will need to pay those premiums or we will drop you. And of course, under state law, your auto at least MUST be insured."
This will, of course, make pro-gun people scream like crazy. "We have a right to carry guns."
And I have a right to not worry about being shot by some idiot channeling John Wayne or Annie Oakley.