Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. | File photo
Updated: June 15, 2013 6:18AM
Illinois still hasn’t passed a concealed-carry law despite a federal court order that it must do so by June 6.
I am neither an opponent nor advocate of such a law.
This is one of those issues where the arguments of both sides seem to have some merit, as well as some major weaknesses.
But when Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart offered up his own version of a law allowing folks to legally carry guns on their person in Cook County, it made me chuckle.
Dart wasn’t grandstanding, in my opinion.
As a former state representative and a guy who remains connected to the political process in this state, he realizes there’s a good chance the Legislature will do nothing.
On controversial issues from gay marriage to medical marijuana to pension reform, the Legislature has been unable to get its act together time after time.
The National Rifle Association folks claim if the state fails to act by the deadline, the U.S. Constitution prevails and everyone can carry a gun.
Politically speaking, there seems to be no good reason for lawmakers in Cook County to pass a concealed-carry law.
The victory of U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-2nd) in Jesse Jackson Jr.’s old congressional district sent a clear signal that there’s a lot of public support for any elected official who takes an anti-gun stand.
As for state legislators who may be sitting on the fence, the fact that every day seems to bring a new story about a crazed gunman shooting people ought to give them pause.
The latest example is New Orleans, where someone apparently decided to fire shots into a crowd gathered at a Mother’s Day parade, injuring 19, including two children.
Those who support concealed carry often point out that Chicago has had the toughest anti-gun laws in the country for more than a decade, yet it has a homicide rate that has become a national embarrassment.
It seems to me they have a legitimate point when they say anti-gun forces can’t make the argument that people were safer because of the city’s total gun ban.
And I have never heard a really good counter argument from the anti-gun side.
The best they can do is point the finger of blame at the gun shops in the suburbs, where the homicide rate is nowhere near Chicago’s.
But logic would lead any reasonable person to wonder why there aren’t more deadly shootings in any of the states that allow concealed carry.
There are in fact studies that show crime has decreased in states that allow people to legally carry guns.
By the way, that’s every state other than Illinois.
Some of those states have passed concealed-carry laws that are quite restrictive, basically giving law enforcement officials the authority to approve a concealed-carry permit.
Most states place severe restrictions on where guns can be carried.
They are usually outlawed in government buildings and bars, for example.
Under Dart’s proposed Cook County gun ordinance, anyone applying for a concealed-carry permit would be required to demonstrate they need a weapon for self-protection and have to pass a thorough screening process.
And if they pass that test, they would have to pay a $300 fee for a concealed-carry permit.
The pro-gun folks contend that such a restrictive policy violates the spirit of the Second Amendment, which guarantees their right to carry a gun.
It’s always interesting to me how blithely the anti-gun crowd dismisses the Constitutional argument, claiming the framers didn’t mean to give every person a right to carry a gun.
But the federal court has said that is exactly what the Constitution means.
I am no Constitutional scholar, but I view everything in the Bill of Rights as written by men who didn’t trust the government and thought it was essential to give people not only the right, but the means to overthrow it.
While I can justify that argument based on my knowledge of history, I can’t defend the average person’s right to own armed drones, shoulder-fired missile launchers or automatic weapons.
And if you were going to overthrow an oppressive government, those are the kinds of weapons you would need.
When gun enthusiasts defend their right to own ammo clips that hold 30 rounds and so-called assault rifles to “hunt coyotes,” I find myself on the anti-gun side of the fence.
My problem is that I have a difficult time discerning the difference between the danger posed by assault rifles to most Americans and the peril posed by semi-automatic handguns, the favorite armament of gangbangers.
The argument to ban one sort of weapon can certainly be made to outlaw others and then you’re on that slippery slope the NRA is always warning about.
The fact is that 49 states have passed concealed-carry laws without a huge surge in bloodshed or crime.
There have been years of research and history to determine what laws work best.
Illinois lawmakers have had months to study all of that and come up with a bill that would pass legal muster and ensure the safety of residents.
Instead, with less than 30 days to go, the issue remains a political football.
Dart knew what he was talking about when he said it was likely the Legislature would do nothing.