Kadner: State may be ready for concealed carry
firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-6787
Last Modified: Mar 25, 2011 04:24AM
Illinois is closer to passing a concealed-carry gun law than ever before, according to pro-gun lobbyists and others.
I wish I could tell you in one clear sentence what I think about this idea. But I don't feel like I fall neatly into the pro-gun or anti-gun camps.
And the more I learn about the proposed law, the more confused I become.
In past columns, I explained how I came to change my anti-gun views.
Two women called me in a period of a week pleading for help. They felt threatened by an ex-husband, in one case, and former boyfriend in another.
The women, who lived in two different south suburbs, each had called their local police departments and been told the same thing. If it was my sister or my mother in your situation, the police said, I would tell them to get a gun.
I confirmed with police that the potential danger to these women was real, that they had contacted police and, although restraining orders had been issued in each case, there was nothing that the police could do for them until something happened.
Listening to the fear in the voices of these women, especially one who had two young children, I decided I could never again in good conscience support gun bans.
Taking that a step further, logic dictates supporting the concealed-carry bill in the state House (H.B. 148), also known as the Family and Personal Protection Act.
Forty-eight of the 50 states have concealed-carry laws. The exceptions are Illinois and Wisconsin, and Wisconsin apparently has open carry.
That would seem to mean that you can wear a holster on your waist with a gun in it, so long as your jacket didn't hide the weapon.
But the law prohibits anyone from carrying a gun in such a manner that it would reasonably "alarm" or "terrify" another person. And you can't carry a loaded firearm on the seat next to you in a car.
So open carry isn't as open as it sounds.
Orland Park Police Chief Timothy McCarthy, a former Secret Service agent shot in the line of duty while protecting President Ronald Reagan, said he is against the concealed-carry law. He said it has nothing to do with being a shooting victim, but everything to do with the proliferation of guns.
"You won't be able to carry guns into schools, courtrooms, or village board meetings or the state Capitol or any place that sells liquor, and I'm sure you won't be allowed to have guns in sports stadiums," McCarthy said.
"So what are people going to do with their guns if this bill is passed? They're going to have to leave them in their cars, and I don't think that's the best place to store a loaded weapon. We're going to see more reports of stolen guns from cars.
"Also, as a police officer, I'm concerned about people having guns in their cars when police officers make what appears to be a routine traffic stop.
"I understand there are statistics that suggest crime goes down in states with concealed-carry laws, but I have conflicting thoughts about this and my primary thought is that anything we can do to limit the proliferation of guns is a good thing."
Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois Rifle Association, said crime against the elderly dropped 75 percent in Florida after it passed concealed carry.
He noted that the Illinois law would require FBI background checks and fingerprint checks and for county sheriffs to approve all concealed-carry permits.
"We're still working on fine-tuning the bill," Pearson said when I asked him about its chance of passing, "and nobody can say what the Illinois Legislature is going to do."
Yet, the association has listed Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) as a likely "yes" vote on the bill.
"He might possibly vote 'yes,' but I don't know how he will vote," Pearson said.
"I expect Madigan to call for a super-majority vote to pass the bill," he added, when I asked if the measure would require such support because some of its provisions would negate the home-rule authority of municipalities.
So Madigan may support the bill but make it almost impossible for it to pass.
"Chicago opposes this bill," Pearson said. "And this is the state of Illinois, so I'm making no predictions."
A person seeking a concealed-carry permit would have to go through a weapons training class, complete a written exam and demonstrate proficiency in marksmanship.
McCarthy questioned whether the eight hours of training would be sufficient.
People are allowed to have guns in their homes now, however, without any training.
The law as written prohibits ordinary folks from carrying guns into any meeting of the Legislature, but lawmakers and "registered lobbyists" with permits could do so.
If lawmakers really believe concealed carry makes the state safer, why don't they trust us with guns in the Capitol?
Copyright © 2011 — Sun-Times Media, LLC