Thursday, May 5, 2011

Divergent Editorials On Concealed Carry In Illinois

With HB 148 - the Illinois right-to-carry bill - probably coming up for a vote today, I thought it would be interesting to contrast the divergent viewpoints on the issue from Chicago and Southern Illinois newspapers.

The Chicago Tribune ran an editorial on Wednesday entitled "Street Heat? Say No". The editorial does acknowledge that Illinois is an outlier when it comes to concealed carry but then goes on to say "Outlier or not, we still think it would be a mistake to encourage people to walk around with guns."

The Tribune editorial glosses over the research that shows crime rates decline or, at the very least, do not go up when concealed carry laws are implemented.
Bottom line: Concealed-carry laws don't seem to have a significant impact on violence one way or the other. The odds aren't much greater that you're going to wind up successfully defending yourself with a gun on the street, or that you're going to mistakenly or intentionally plug somebody with a bullet. There are cases, though, where licensed holders do commit violence.
They claim the HB 148's authors recognize the potential for "mayhem" by restricting where concealed carry would be allowed under the bill. They then go on to attack all the places where concealed carry would be allowed.

Finally, despite being endorsed by the Illinois Sheriffs Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police along with organizations for the Chicago PD's sergeants and lieutenants, the editorial claims CCW  raises public safety concerns for local cops. I believe that by this they mean the hierarchy of the Chicago Police Department and no one else. They conclude their editorial opposing CCW by saying:
We see more problems here. The background check procedures for issuing a state firearm owner's identification card are not foolproof. The state lacks enough control over the private sale of guns.

This bill needs an extraordinary majority to pre-empt local authority and to survive a veto from the governor. We urge lawmakers to reject it. The safety and well-being of the people of Illinois doesn't start with the power to pack heat on the street.
In stark contrast to this fear-mongering editorial from the Chicago Tribune is an editorial in today's Belleville News-Democrat. They take strong exception to Governor Pat Quinn playing the "fear card" when he says concealed carry will "to more danger and more bad things happening."
That line might work if Illinois were the first state to consider concealed carry. But 48 of the 50 states already have concealed carry, with no horrible impact on public safety. That's because the people who apply for a concealed-carry permits and are willing to undergo the required background checks and training are not the people out robbing and killing. They want this law to enhance public safety, not hurt it.

Whether HB 148 would improve safety is a matter for debate, but it's safe to say that passage of the bill would not make Illinois a more dangerous place.
While stopping short of endorsing the bill, the editorial recognizes that CCW will not make Illinois like the so-called Wild West and that criminals are already carrying concealed. It is interesting to note of the nine comments on this editorial, eight support concealed carry and only one opposes it.

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