* My Sun-Times column…
I’ve long subscribed to the belief that if someone’s behavior isn’t hurting anybody else, then the government ought to leave them alone.
Legalizing marijuana certainly falls into that belief structure. If somebody wants to get high and eat Cheetos all day, then I don’t think they ought to be locked in steel cages.
There was a time just a few years ago when the “mainstream” media constantly fretted about blogs — forgetting that the First Amendment didn’t belong solely to “traditional” news outlets. But the country is much better off after a literal explosion of free speech. Blogs have made us more informed and are now as American as the Chicago Sun-Times. Heck, the Sun-Times now has blogs. The more speech, the better.
I’m not particularly religious, but as long as you don’t use the government to impose your specific religious practices on me, then I’m all for you doing your thing.
I think there are far too many restrictions on public protests. Having to reroute your shopping trip because a group is marching in the street is not really being harmed. The government has too often used the possibility of smallish annoyances to motorists as an excuse to literally steal peoples’ constitutional rights to peaceably assemble.
Guns are a different matter. Clearly, guns can really hurt people. I’ve struggled with this issue pretty much all my adult life. My mother hated guns, so we had none in our house, but her brother and a brother-in-law had guns and I used to occasionally shoot with them. I’m not afraid of guns the way some are. I’ve been to a few war zones, seen a few fire fights, but was never once armed. I’ve never felt the need to strap on a pistol while in “bad” Chicago neighborhoods, either, and I’ve spent time in those.
Most of the people who want the right to carry a concealed handgun happen to be white suburban or rural men. It’s easy to play armchair psychiatrist and dismiss them as perpetually angry, overcompensating paranoids.
But not everybody who wants a concealed handgun in public is a wingnut. Women are often threatened by ex-boyfriends and know the cops can’t offer much protection. People who work in dangerous neighborhoods at night could have a legit reason to carry . Decent, law-abiding citizens who live in areas infested with gang thugs can’t be blamed for wanting to pack heat.
I’ve spent some time in Florida, where the cities can often be as crazy or even crazier than anything we see up here. The state has a concealed carry law but the Sunshine State hasn’t exploded in violence. Florida’s murder rate in 1987, the year concealed carry was legalized, was 11.4 per 100,000 residents, according to government data on disastercenter.com. Illinois’s rate that year was 8.3. Last year, Florida’s murder rate was 5.2 per 100,000. Illinois’ was 5.6. I don’t think Florida’s law mattered much either way.
So, I’ve evolved.
Nobody wants to see gangbangers carrying concealed handguns. But if somebody has never been convicted of a felony, isn’t crazy, doesn’t have an order of protection against them, belongs to no gang, can pass a training course, can be required to renew their licenses every year or so and isn’t allowed to bring guns into schools or some other public places, then I don’t really buy into the hyperbolic fears about the tragedies that will befall us because Chicago’s U.S. Appellate court has ruled that the state’s gun carrying bans are unconstitutional. It’s just not going to be the end of the world.
* Meanwhile, the Tribune argues for a two-track approach in the wake of the appellate court ruling. Appeal to the Supreme Court and craft a “may issue” bill in Springfield…
The resulting indignation in some quarters, and jubilation in others, is understandable. Longtime opponents of concealed carry in Illinois, this page included, have suffered a major setback. But what they — we — cannot do now is pout. The wise and practical response now is a two-track approach:
If [Attorney General Lisa Madigan] thinks Tuesday’s 2-1 decision justifies an appeal to the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, fine. Illinois doesn’t have a lot to lose. But a subsequent appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court could invite the justices to, in effect, expand their earlier decisions and limit restrictions on concealed carry that other states have enacted. Nationally, gun control advocates could lose more than they’ve already lost.
Simultaneously, though, Illinois lawmakers need to obey the appellate panel and write what its majority prescribed: a new law that legalizes concealed carry, within “reasonable” restrictions. That lawmaking will require more efficiency, and less rancor, than the low-performing General Assembly has demonstrated of late. But legislators will be, pardon the phrase, under the gun: If they don’t comply, it’s conceivable that police and sheriff’s officers no longer could enforce the law that the judges invalidated but left in effect temporarily.
* The Sun-Times wants an appeal and a very restrictive concealed carry law…
The Legislature might even be able to find a way to continue banning concealed carry while rewriting the law to satisfy the appeals court, which said the current law doesn’t rest on sufficient justification. Short of that, the Legislature could consider a narrowly crafted law, such as that in New York, which has concealed carry in theory but does not grant many permits.
Supporters of concealed carry have brought the issue to Springfield many times but have not had enough votes to prevail.
While not denying the appeal of concealed carry to people who feel threatened, we have long opposed such laws, arguing that we should be working toward a more civilized society, not an armed camp.
In a dissent Tuesday Judge Ann C. Williams wrote, “[the] Illinois Legislature . . . sought to ‘prevent situations where no criminal intent existed, but criminal conduct resulted despite the lack of intent, e.g., accidents with loaded guns on public streets or the escalation of minor public altercations into gun battles.’ . . . The danger of such situations increases if guns may be carried outside the home.”
The Legislature has every reason to limit that danger as much as possible, and it should continue to do so.
* Editorial: Go slow on crafting concealed carry law
* Editorial: Gun carry ruling correct and overdue
* Kadner: Time for a concealed carry law in Illinois
* SIU must consider impact of concealed carry: University President Glenn Poshard told the board of trustees at its meeting Thursday college campuses were previously exempt from concealed carry laws, but since the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wants the state to start over with new legislation, such restrictions might not end up in place. “We may end up with low restrictions on concealed carry on our campus,” Poshard said, noting the prospect could become problematic for the university