Friday, February 20, 2009

“Concealed carry” a chance for rural Illinois to speak, without doing harm

The news dispatch that emanated from the “Statehouse in Springpatch” sounded so serious – an Illinois House committee “is recommending” that the Legislature and Gov. Pat Quinn pass a new law allowing people to carry firearms concealed on their person.

Whether it be in a shoulder holster underneath a jacket or a tiny pistol packed away in a woman’s purse, proponents of such a chance in state law have long allocated the idea that allowing people to carry firearms would let them defend themselves from would-be attackers.

BUT THEN I realized that the portion of the Illinois Legislature that took action is one that many political people ignore because it seems so isolated from our daily lives.

I’m talking about the group of legislators who call themselves the “Sportsmen’s Caucus.”

Giving themselves that name allows the group to think of itself as a legitimate faction of the Illinois Legislature, just as much as the black caucus, the Latino caucus, or even the Conference of Women Legislators (a group whose existence often causes tacky jokes from certain male members of the Legislature).

The sportsmen’s caucus, simply put, consists of the legislators from rural parts of Illinois – the parts of the state where Danville or Effingham are viewed as “big cities,” and where the Chicago metropolitan area is thought of as a separate entity that is best ignored.

THE CAUCUS COMES at issues with a rural perspective. And it was those legislators who were dominant on the Illinois House committee that gave the “concealed carry” measure (the cutesy name that proponents like to use for allowing people to “pack heat” on their persons) its recommendation.

So it should not be considered some ominous change in the mentality of Illinois that this particular committee gave the firearms-related measure an 11-1 vote (the one lone vote of opposition came from the committee member from suburban Evanston, which means she is the aberration among its members).

This was about allowing the purely rural legislators a chance to express their view on the issue, which does play well to their constituents back home.

Seriously, the committee chair on Wednesday was a representative from Marion (the Southern Illinois city that houses a federal maximum-security prison). Another bill that touts the same general concept is sponsored by a representative from Harrisburg.

IT’S NOT LIKE this is an idea that is suddenly gaining support across the state. When it comes to a full vote of the Legislature, there’s a good chance that the urban and suburban legislators who comprise about two-thirds of the General Assembly will band together – putting “Democrat” and “Republican” aside to reject the idea.

In fact, even some of the idea’s supporters expect that to be the end result, even if they lambast that result as being due to “Democratic Chicago” having too much control over the state.

This was about letting those rural legislators have their moment of glory for their hometown voters. If in the process, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, can spin this as evidence he will allow his people to consider alternative points of view on issues, then he gets another benefit.

It doesn’t mean that Quinn is likely to be confronted with a decision later this summer as to whether to let people carry pistols out of the belief that they will need them to shoot a would-be mugger.

IN FACT, I couldn’t help but notice there’s a conflict between the differing versions of “concealed carry” that are pending in the General Assembly this year.

One version (the one recommended on Wednesday) would require people to apply to the Illinois State Police for a special permit that shows they are considered responsible enough to carry a firearm.

But another version was crafted by people who seem to think that the individual county sheriffs ought to have the authority to decide who within their jurisdiction gets to pack a pistol.

So it is entirely possible that this “issue” will get shot down, so to speak, by the inability of rural supporters and their legislators to figure out exactly who should oversee who gets to carry a pistol in public.

PERSONALLY, IF I had to pick, I’d say the state police (who have a statewide jurisdiction) ought to have oversight over something like this. But I’m also aware that the biggest proponents of ideas such as this are usually the ones who want oversight kept as local as possible.

So this is probably another concept over which we will disagree.

I say “another” because this is just one of several issues that illustrates the drastic difference in perception about life between Illinois’ urban and rural residents. This is a state where the same 2008 Election Day that saw the ascension of Barack Obama to the White House also saw voters in 10 rural counties give their support to “concealed carry.”

Most of those counties were in Southern Illinois (closer physically and in spirit to Kentucky than to Chicago). But voters in four other rural counties rejected the idea last November – including those of Winnebago, LaSalle and Kendall counties, which are located just beyond the urban sprawl of the Chicago metro area.

IT SEEMS THE closer one gets to Chicago (or in the case of Winnebago, has a city like Rockford in its midst), the less popular the idea of holstered pistols among the general public seems.

Rural residents may think they’re defending themselves, but us urban folk can’t help but believe that having so many people carry a pistol tucked away in their waistband is asking for trouble, particularly if someone who isn’t all that stable gets trigger-happy after getting it into his head that he is being threatened.

I’m sure there are a lot of would-be criminals who justify their currently illegal carrying of firearms as a self-protective measure, even though it just means more guns in the hands of people who might subconsciously be looking for a threat so that they can justify using them.

After all, why pack a pistol if you don’t seriously want to have a reason to use it?

-30-

5 comments:

Gurgle Gutz said...

"After all, why pack a pistol if you don’t seriously want to have a reason to use it?"

Nice.

That's like asking why you would have insurance on your home, unless of course you were hoping that it would burn down. Why have life insurance on your family? Are you hoping that they die?

Those of you that do not wish to carry firearms for protection are more than welcome to dial 911 and wait for the police.

No, I will not protect you. The firearms that I carry will only be used to protect me and my family.

If you are too proud to protect yourself or your family, think you're too good to have to deal with thugs, too scared to defend yourselves, or feel that the police are paid to protect you, then by all means, go ahead and don't carry a weapon. But, as I've said, my weapon is solely for my and my family's protection.

And don't whine when the police don't show up quickly enough for you. After all, even the police at
Second City Cop like to note that "When seconds count, the Police are only minutes away." and yes, Second City Cop supports Concealed Carry for the law-abiding citizen.

My weapon is solely for me and my loved ones. I'm not a cop wannabe. I'm not a vigilante. I don't wish to be a hero (hence my reason for not protecting you if I see you getting your ass beaten down). And I certainly don't wish to take the life of another human being.

You may now return to your throne now, your highness.

Anonymous said...

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and
force. If you want me to do something, you have the choice of either convincing me via discussion or argument, or to try to force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's
it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact with one another through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu
is the possession of personal arms, as paradoxical as that may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason to try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a
100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang-banger, and single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunken homophobes with baseball
bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, and/or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd all be more civilized if every gun was removed from society, because firearms make it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are disarmed, either by choice or
by legislative fiat. It has no validity when most of mugger's potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for the automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's exactly the opposite of a civilized society.

A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly. Then there's the argument that guns make confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result only
in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns, the confrontation is won by a physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones
don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the
stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is leveled. The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as in the hands
of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am out looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced; only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because
it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation...and that's why my
carrying a gun is a civilized act.

Anonymous said...

Check the stats, because violent crime rates drop dramatically when "conceal carry" is allowed. There has only ever been one exception to this fact. The crime rate which drops the most is rape.

Research will also find information about how fear in the criminals' heads is more important than actually having to use the firearm.

If you lived in my gang-infested neighborhood, full of welfare and section 8, you might agree with me. When was the last time you saw a drug-deal in front of your house, or had a shooting in your neighborhood? I have to walk my dogs among gang-bangers, unarmed.

Anonymous said...

I actually read the entire article/writting of the person and then clicked to complain about their lack in reporting. What I read led me to think they wanted to take my 2nd Amendment away. Now that I have gotten to this I find something way different. So, is this a reason that only two have commented? Or a well thought out plan to prevent others from actually reading something that may give us the right to defend ourselves from someone or something. Hell, now that I have wrote all of this I am wondering why I even give a hoot about others rights. Do not get me wrong though, others rights taken away take mine. This said, the saying "From My Cold Dead Hands" rings a bell. I have always laughed at that saying since my idea will out live my breath.

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