Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When it comes to firearms, are we intertwined with N.Y.?

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw money into the campaign of newly-elected Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., to bolster his own political efforts in his home city to maintain strict limits on legal access to firearms.

So perhaps it is perfect that a legal decision impacting those New York laws has the potential to bolster the interests of those people in Chicago who want equally-strict, if not stricter, measures to apply here.

FOR THE RECORD, the Supreme Court of the United States on Monday said it will not take up a case involving New York’s laws concerning the concept of “concealed carry.”

New York may be among the 49 states that permit some people to carry a pistol on their person while out in public. But the state, along with some others (including California), gives law enforcement officials great discretion to decide who is worthy of such a permit. Most people don’t qualify.

It is a far cry from the situation that the firearms advocates would have us believe is true – that there are 49 states that permit people to “pack heat” in public, and then mean, old Illinois which is denying the public the chance to defend themselves from urban violence.

Those advocates were upset that a Court of Appeals for the New York-area upheld the state statutes. They filed their own appeal to the Supreme Court – hoping that the mentality that seems to prevail among a slim (5 to 4) majority of the high court – would come through and the New York law would get taken down.


For the high court decided not to touch the issue – which means they’re doing nothing and the appeals court ruling will remain in place. Which means the New York take on “concealed carry” remains the law of that state.

And the police will continue to have a lot of discretion in determining whether or not someone really faces circumstances that make having a pistol a necessity.

So what does any of this have to do with Chicago, and Illinois?

OUR STATE’S GENERAL Assembly faces a situation where a Court of Appeals for the Midwestern U.S. issued a ruling that says the state needs to have some sort of law that permits “concealed carry” for our residents.

What form this law will take is uncertain – other than that something has to happen within two months (the court back in January set a 180-day time limit for action to occur).

The firearms advocates here have been taking a fairly uncompromising attitude. They view the appeals court as setting the proper direction – that a law allowing for more pistols in public is the way to go.

In fact, the reason given by many gun control proponents for not challenging the Midwestern appeals court’s ruling was a fear that the Supreme Court would reject it – and use such a ruling as the mechanism for striking down all sorts of firearms restrictions across the country.

SO DOES THE fact that the Supreme Court was unwilling to alter the New York law mean that it might be inclined to leave alone some sort of effort to place restrictions on who can keep a pistol on them in Illinois?

There is a sense that it would be reflective of the local population (which is the theory that the conservative ideologues like to spout; except when it interferes with their ability to push their morals down everybody’s throat) to have stricter laws on firearms in Illinois than in a place like Idaho.

The states with the most restrictive laws on this issue are California and New York – which contain Los Angeles and New York City. Why wouldn’t Illinois have similar attitudes?

Even if the people in Cairo, Ill., like to boast that they’re closer both physically and in spirit with Jackson, Miss.? And the firearms advocates here have been saying they're going to oppose anything related to Chicago that comes before the state Legislature until they get their way.

OF COURSE, THERE are no guarantees. For all I know, the high court could decide to use any action in Illinois (instead of New York) to take on the issue on behalf of firearms advocates.

But I can’t help but breathe a little bit easier at the thought that the Supreme Court did not feel compelled to address the New York situation.

While I suspect that its motives on this issue were similar to its appearance when hearing arguments concerning gay marriage (many justices seemed as though they wished the issue would just go away), the end result comes out favorable.

“No news is good news” would seem to be the rule of thumb applicable here.


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