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Kadner: Openly carry guns to stop crime

Sun-Times MediFile

Sun-Times Media File

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Updated: August 11, 2013 6:24AM



You are standing in a grocery store checkout line when a man in front of you pulls out a gun.

Is this a robbery? Is he going to fire randomly at customers and employees in the store? You don’t know.

Now a woman standing behind you in line pulls out a gun from her purse. Do you feel any safer?

That’s just one of the scenarios that plays out in my mind as I listen to the debate in Illinois over concealed carry.

Advocates of concealed carry contend that the streets will be safer and can cite statistics from other states to back that up.

Opponents of such a law claim that putting more guns on the street will lead to more shootings and killings.

Constitutional purists counter that none of that really matters because the Second Amendment has been interpreted by the courts as giving every American the right to carry a gun to protect himself and his property.

It was a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Chicago’s ban on concealed handguns and a U.S. appeals court later ordered Illinois to put in place a law, passed Tuesday, allowing citizens to carry weapons on their person.

Every other state in the nation had passed such a law.

As I have written in previous columns, I am not opposed to concealed carry.

Despite having the toughest gun laws in the country, Chicago has been unsuccessful in curtailing the number of murders on its streets.

But I can certainly understand the arguments of the anti-gun crowd, who believe a concealed-carry law will only increase the likelihood that more innocent people will die.

Gun owners contend that the prospect of a law-abiding citizens carrying weapons will have a chilling effect on criminals.

They say the cowardly bad guys won’t risk pulling a gun for fear that their victim will also be armed. And if the bad guy does draw a weapon, bam, a good guy will be around to shoot him down.

But if it’s fair to ridicule Chicago’s former ban on guns as ineffective, it’s equally legitimate to point out that the profusion of guns in the city has not deterred street gang members from killing each other.

They know the other side is armed. They know there will likely be retribution for shooting a rival gang member. It doesn’t seem to matter to them.

Death is a way of life on Chicago’s inner-city streets — the price of doing business for drug dealers, the only way to protect your turf from encroachment by the enemy.

The notion of concealed carry as a deterrent seems ludicrous to me.

If you really believe that armed civilians deter crime, the argument should be for open carry.

People carrying shotguns in the streets or having sidearms dangling from their hips might actually force a criminal to choose a different target.

There would be little doubt that a violent action on the criminal’s part would meet with a forceful response.

Yet no one seems to advocate that sort of solution to the tide of violence that has so frightened the average person that every state in the nation feels the need to grant them the ability to arm themselves.

Perhaps no one on either side of the gun debate really wants to admit the obvious, which is that too many people in this nation fear for their lives. But that’s what this controversy is all about.

The anti-gun people blame the availability of guns for the increase in violent crime.

The pro-gun side contends that while criminals ignore the laws prohibiting firearms, law-abiding citizens are stripped of their ability to defend themselves and their families.

Neither side wants to talk about the increasing disregard for human life that seems to be engulfing certain parts of the country.

It’s not just bad guys shooting other bad guys, but bad guys shooting innocent people for the fun of it.

It’s people suffering from mental illness killing people and having access to more powerful weapons than ever before in our country’s history.

And there is an unspoken fear that at some point a terrorist will open fire in a public building.

No one offers solutions to any of this, other than more guns or some restrictions on assault-style rifles and ammunition clip sizes.

So here’s what the two sides of the gun debate boil down to in real-world terms.

People need to carry a gun to have a fighting chance in this unlawful, uncivilized country we live in because average people are no longer safe.

Or, accept that some innocent people are going to be murdered but limit the damage by banning certain kinds of guns and the number of bullets in ammunition clips.

Politically speaking, there is no safe middle ground. You are you either pro-gun or anti-gun.

It’s almost like being a customer in that grocery store, where people have their guns drawn on either side and you are stuck in the middle.

Of course, in my hypothetical, neither person has an assault weapon, and each is limited to 10 rounds of ammunition.

The “bad guy” has not taken an authorized firearm training class, but the woman standing behind you in line has a certificate from such a program.

As an American citizen, would you be proud at such a moment to know that the courts of this great land have given the woman the opportunity to defend herself?

Suppose your children were standing in line with you at the time?

My hypothetical is not fair. But is there such a thing when it comes to these sorts of life-and-death confrontations?

I might suggest that there is no easy solution, no simple answer.

But that would make no one feel better.

Illinois on Tuesday became the final state in the nation to pass a concealed-carry law.

The era when Americans felt they did not need to carry guns to feel safe is over.



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