WEAPONS OF CHOICE
Illinois arguing over concealed carry permits
Sheriff's say joining 48 other states in allowing would cut crime
Posted: March 02, 2009
1:36 pm Eastern
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
Arguments are reaching a fever pitch in Illinois – and are being ratcheted up in other states – over gun rights, following last year's U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the Heller case that the Constitution does acknowledge an individual's right to be armed.
Illinois is one of two states where carrying concealed weapons is banned outright, with Wisconsin being the other. But the Land of Lincoln soon could be joining 48 other states where the procedure is regulated but allowed.
"I think it will reduce crime," St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl Justus, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He said he used to oppose concealed carry permits, but now supports the idea.
"Forty-eight states can't be wrong," he told the newspaper.
In the state's legislature, Second Amendment supporters are cheered by a new impetus to recognize self-protection ideals and the new governor, Pat Quinn, replacing impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is viewed as being more open to the idea.
"It's heating up. We think we're close," Todd Vandermyde, a National Rifle Association lobbyist, told the newspaper.
Gun opponents have raised worries about the violence they envision.
"Arming this state is going to make more and more people feel that they need to protect themselves, and it could escalate all the handguns that are out there," state Rep. Harry Osterman, D-Chicago, told the Post-Dispatch.
Tom Mannard, of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, told the paper that he would expect problems with increased violence even though that hasn't been the experience in other states where concealed carry is allowed.
"We haven't seen mayhem in the street — that doesn't mean the potential isn't there," he said.
He said the Heller case, which overturned the District of Columbia's outright ban on handgun ownership, isn't applicable to carry permit issues.
Gun rights advocates, however, said the high court ruling clearly rejects the notion that such widespread bans are legitimate.
Several concealed-carry measures are moving through the Illinois statehouse in Springfield now, and one of them already is in the pipeline for a House vote. The Family and Personal Protection Act would let those who pass training and background requirements carry concealed weapons.
On the newspaper's forum page, one anonymous poster simply asked for an even playing field.
"The criminal scum bags do not need a CCW. Let us even up the deal and give law abiding citizens the right to carry their legally obtained firearms. Hope it passes to give the law abiding citizen a fair chance against gun yielding thugs," said one.
But another suggested such Constitutional rights should be put up for a vote.
"Look what happened in Missouri. The popular vote said 'no' to conceal-carry – twice, if I'm not mistaken. But our morally-challenged state legislators just went ahead and passed a bill to allow it anyway. That's not democracy – it's plutocracy run by the NRA."
"The automobile kills more people in a year than guns do in a decade. But I have yet to see people in an uproar trying to ban automobiles," wrote another. "A responsible driver, and a responsible gun owner have a lot in common. The last thing they ever want to do is hurt or kill someone else, and they do the best they can to prevent it from happening."
But Illinois is not the only location where the issue is heating up. Two pieces of legislation are heading to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine – one would keep secret a list of concealed carry permit holders there while another would expand the locations permit holders could carry weapons.
In Hampshire, Exeter resident Dan Garand is going to the state Supreme Court in his demand for a concealed carry permit, a permit that was denied him by his local police chief, Richard Kane, who claimed Garand had been "under investigation" for a crime.
Garand's attorney, Penny Dean, said such claims were "exaggerated and outrageous," and said, "If you can lawfully own a gun, you should be issued a license to carry."
In Wyoming, lawmakers are trying to create a door for those individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to regain their gun ownership rights, which were removed by Congress in 1996.
There lawmakers have approved a plan to let residents convicted of domestic violence apply to the court to expunge their record and regain their gun rights, once several conditions are met, such as a five-year waiting period.
In the District of Columbia, residents would have greater access to firearms under a plan approved in the U.S. Senate just eight months after the 5-4 Heller decision that struck down the district's 32-year-old handgun ban.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., reported the District of Columbia since then "has attempted to subvert what the Supreme Court did by putting very burdensome types of laws to make it more and more difficult for district residents to own a gun to be able to protect themselves in their own homes."
And on the national level, Attorney General Eric Holder has promised to seek to ban on semi-automatic rifles.
WND reported Holder noted, "there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make."
Holder had endorsed the District of Columbia's complete ban on functional guns in residents' homes before it was overturned by the Supreme Court. The court decided in the D.C. vs. Heller case that the Second Amendment provides an individual right to own firearms, not just the right for states to form armed militias.