Rockford Register Star Article from Yesterday. Link
By Mike Wiser
Posted Jun 11, 2008 @ 12:04 AM
ROCKFORD — Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers lent his considerable support to the county’s concealed carry debate.
Meyers was the last of 30 speakers to take the podium, and he received a standing ovation for his efforts.
“Let me get it out of the way,” he told the crowd. “I do not have a problem with concealed carry.”
He said that “20 years ago, I would have told you different,” but “we’re at a point where we don’t have a choice.”
The County Board is drafting a resolution that will authorize the sheriff to issue gun permits to qualified citizens. Although the resolution is still in draft form, at least 13 of the 28 board members have already signed on.
Although he supports the idea of concealed carry for the county, Meyers said he would not issue permits, even if the board passes the resolution, if he is told by the state’s attorney’s office or the Illinois attorney general’s office that doing so would be a violation of state law.
“If our attorneys say we can issue a permit, that’s what I’ll do,” Meyers said. “If they say I can’t, then I won’t, and that’s probably when the courts will get involved.”
Shortly after the meeting broke up, Meyers elaborated a bit, saying that while he doesn’t think all the supporters of the resolution can legally do what they want and that some of the facts they are citing might not be accurate, he understands the need for citizens to be able to arm themselves.
“Wisconsin almost passed it; if they did, we’d be the only state without some sort of concealed carry,” he said.
“I just think that this is what’s coming, and from a public safety standpoint, it’s the right thing to do.”
Although the sheriff was the most well-known of the pro-resolution crowd, several others took the podium in support of the resolution. Of the 30 speakers, only two came out against the proposal.
A number mentioned the shootings at Northern Illinois University as to why citizens should be armed, and some referred to the U.S. Constitution, particularly the Second Amendment, as a basis for their beliefs.
A few came from out of county, drawn to the Memorial Hall meeting to show their support for what was happening in Winnebago County.
“There’s nothing worth dying for in my wallet,” said Mark McGee. “My family, that’s a different story.”
Another man, Robert Stoner of Rockford, told a story about how he was almost carjacked in the early 1980s and only got out of the jam when he stuck a gun in his assailant’s face.
“Back then, it was only a misdemeanor (to carry a concealed firearm),” Stoner said. “Nowadays, it’s a felony and I’d be locked up for it.”
Kirby Miracle, also of Rockford, said enacting a concealed carry system would help the city and the county attract visitors.
Tom Owens, the County Board member who presided over the meeting, said the turnout at the public hearing proved the people of Winnebago County were embracing some form of concealed carry.
Staff writer Mike Wiser can be reached at 815-987-1377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.