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Kadner: Time for a concealed carry law in Illinois

A federal court has overturned Illinois’ ban concealed carry guns. 
| Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

A federal court has overturned Illinois’ ban on the concealed carry of guns. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 13, 2013 11:07AM



Illinois should pass a concealed-carry law.

Once that’s done, reasonable people on each side of this issue actually might begin to ask why it is that law-abiding folks believe they need to carry handguns for personal protection.

I doubt it because that sort of discussion doesn’t seem to have occurred in any of the 49 states that have passed concealed-carry laws.

It seems strange to me that so many Americans believe they live in the greatest country in the world, yet also maintain that people can’t walk the streets safely unless they are armed.

Something really bad has happened to our society, and you can’t blame the economic recession for this one.

The battle to pass concealed-carry laws really picked up steam in the 1990s, during one of the greatest economic booms in U.S. history. Illinois is the only state that doesn’t allow people to carry concealed handguns.

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled that this state’s ban on carrying concealed weapons is unconstitutional. The court gave the Legislature 180 days to craft a law legalizing concealed guns.

“The Supreme Court has decided that the (Second) Amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside,” wrote appeals court Judge Richard Posner.

There are many people who believe their neighborhood streets will be safer if criminals suspect a mother pushing a baby carriage or a nerd sending a text message are armed and dangerous. There are statistics that suggest that crime goes down in states with a concealed-carry law.

I’m not among the folks who believe the streets will be safer, but I do believe there are victims of domestic violence and other individuals in threatening situations who require more protection than police can afford them.

But I don’t buy into the idea that concealed carry is a cure, or even a good treatment, for what ails society.

I have good friends who argue that the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, is sacred, as important to their freedom as free speech.

Attacks on their rights by people who don’t like guns have hardened the stance of the pro-gun lobby who believe they’re being ridiculed by the uninformed, the ignorant and self-righteous liberals who want to tell them how to live.

Attempts by the National Rifle Association and others to influence political decisions are equally offensive to those who oppose the abundance of guns available in this country.

I find it strange that, for the most part, neither side wants to stop the debate over gun control for a few minutes to discuss how our country has changed. It’s not just about statistics. It’s about perception.

As for the concealed-carry law, there are all sorts of ways to restrict legal access to firearms. You can force applicants to take gun training classes, prohibit criminals from obtaining a gun license and give a great deal of leeway to local law enforcement agencies to intervene in the process.

Most states prohibit carrying firearms in certain public places.

For example, Wisconsin, the most recent state to pass a concealed-carry law, made it unlawful to carry a firearm, electronic weapon, knife or billy club inside a police station, prison, mental health center, courthouse, beyond an airport security checkpoint or on school grounds.

A person with a concealed-carry license in Wisconsin may carry a gun into a tavern but only if he does not consume alcohol.

Illinois almost passed a concealed-carry law in the spring, so it’s not as if this Legislature is entirely opposed to the idea.

I’ve always been baffled by the notion that concealed carry is somehow more effective than open carry when it comes to deterring crime.

My thought is that the sight of a half dozen or more people sitting in a fast-food restaurant with guns strapped to their hips might give a criminal, or someone suffering from a mental illness, pause before committing some heinous act.

But the concealed-carry crowd often counters that it’s the unknown, the possibility that anyone might have a weapon secreted on their body, that is the biggest deterrent to crime.

For the past 20 years, I’ve operated on the assumption that every motorist who cuts me off in traffic and every loud-mouthed drunk at a party may be armed, despite the lack of a concealed-carry law. Maybe hardened criminals and mentally unbalanced people don’t think that way.

I have come to realize there are many people, good people, who fervently believe that a country where more people carry guns is a better country.

I don’t.

Should a criminal walk through a door with a gun in hand, I have this image of a Barney Fife-like bystander scrambling to find his bullet, dropping his weapon and then shooting himself in the foot.

Maybe that won’t happen. Training will be required for a firearm license.

And I have already received an email from a business offering gun training classes for $250 that will guarantee me a concealed-carry license when Illinois passes its law.

If nothing else, there’s an idea for a Christmas gift. Peace on Earth.

Correction: In Tuesday’s column, I mistakenly reported that Tinley Park Treasurer Brad Bettenhausen had resigned as a village trustee to avoid a conflict of interest. It was actually Mike Bettenhausen, the president of the Tinley Park Dodge dealership, who resigned for that reason.

In addition, I further confused the Bettenhausens who served in the village fire department with the car dealership Bettenhausens. They are not related.



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