Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Testing the Lege for firearms

I wish I were in Springfield on Tuesday, when legislators were put through a series of votes to determine the degree to which the actual members of the General Assembly support the idea of firearms in public.

A busy place Tuesday, and later this spring, for gun control measures

It would be comical to see our legislators have to think for themselves – since the whole point of Tuesday’s exercise was for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, to figure out just how restrictive a bill could he craft for consideration this spring. Instead of waiting for Madigan to give them "hints" about how they're supposed to vote.

FOR WE HAVE the issue of “concealed carry,” by which people could carry a pistol on their person in public out of a sense of being able to “protect” themselves from potential violent outbursts.

We have a Court of Appeals based in Chicago telling the state Legislature that they have until June to come up with some sort of law permitting such firearms possession. But they’re not telling the state just how open (or restrictive) such a measure needs to be.

Because for all the cheap rhetoric about how Illinois is the only state that does not permit “concealed carry” in public, it really is wrong to claim that our state is some sort of “lone wolf” objector when it comes to firearms use in public.

While there are a few states that take the concept of a person’s right to bear arms everywhere to the extreme, most states have restrictions on who can actually gain the permits that would make the pistols tucked in their shoulder holster or purse legal – and not automatic reason for their arrest.

OFFICIALS IN CALIFORNIA and New York have laws that are so restrictive of who can gain a permit that you could argue that they might as well have an “outright” ban. That certainly is the spirit of their laws.

And we in Illinois have more in common with those states than we do places like Mississippi or Texas.

So for those firearms proponents who think the Illinois Legislature is about to craft a bill that would make it easy for just about everyone to carry that pistol of theirs in public, it’s not likely.

We have state officials who might like to impose every restriction they could think of. While a few others might want absolute minimalist restrictions -- and some of those on Tuesday tried their best to be obstructionists to the process, since they claim they want just an "up" or "down" vote on a single bill; preferably one that gives them everything they want and tells the opposition to "shut up" and get over their opposition.

TUESDAY WAS ABOUT trying to figure out which restrictions would be approved by legislators, and which ones would be absolutely despised.

Those people who are determined to be able to carry pistols when they get on board a bus? To me, and to anyone who actually uses mass transportation on a regular or semi-regular basis, the idea is ludicrous.

The same with the idea that some people have a problem with already existing bans that prevent firearms from being possessed anywhere on property belonging to public universities.

But the firearms rights people seem to want the idea – although I suspect it is more out of a sense of principal that they want something resembling an absolute “right” to have that pistol on their person at all times.

EVEN WHILE INSIDE the grounds of a sports stadium? Perhaps they think they can pull out their pistol and shoot the nitwit sitting in front of them who thinks he can stand all game and block the views of those behind them.

Or perhaps losing quarterbacks will now face the option of a hail of gunfire from the stands when they make a bad pass?

That’s a bit over the top. I doubt anyone would want that to happen – although sports fans have been known to let themselves get caught up in the emotion of the event. Which is why many people would not want minimal-to-no restriction. Life has too many opportunities for people to get caught up in themselves and over-react.

And we’re going to learn how supportive our legislators are of the concept as they practice their way towards voting at some point this spring on a real bill.


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