Illinois nixes concealed-carry. St. Louis hosts NRA.

The Illinois House defeated a measure to allow citizens to carry concealed firearms, shortly after Governor Quinn promised to veto the measure. Supporters managed to keep the bill technically alive through legislative maneuvering; however, there seems little chance that any concealed-carry bill will become law in Illinois anytime soon.

Proponents of the Illinois bill argued that allowing licensed, trained individuals to carry concealed firearms would allow them self-protection from crime. Those licensed to carry would have been required to obtain a “FOID” (firearm owner’s identification) card just as current firearm owners are. There would also have been background checks for criminal history or mental illness. It was noted that Illinois is one of only two states (Wisconsin is the other) that do not have some type of concealed-carry law, and that if criminals are already carrying concealed weapons, then citizens should be allowed the chance to defend themselves by doing the same thing legally.

Governor Quinn’s response to the “public safety” argument was to assert that legal concealed carry increases public safety. “Keep Guns Off Campus” notes that since 2007, nine law enforcement officers have died at the hands of citizens carrying concealed weapons legally, along with 273 civilians killed at the hands of people legally carrying concealed weapons. Studies have failed to demonstrate any connection between issuing concealed carry permits and any statistically significant rise or drop in crime rates. An updated “counter” of deaths attributable to persons with concealed carry permits is available at the Violence Policy Center.

Guns Off Campus notes that several states have found that the issuing of concealed carry permits is much tougher to enforce than was originally envisioned. Texas, Florida, Indiana and Tennessee have discovered that concealed carry licenses are frequently issued to individuals with criminal histories.

The advocates of concealed carry firearm laws are fast to laud those who respond to criminal behavior while carrying firearms. A recent instance was Jared Loughner’s rampage in Arizona, to which a citizen carrying a concealed firearm responded. Joe Zamudio credited his willingness to respond to the scene of a shooting to his having a legally concealed firearm at the time. Less noted was the fact that at his arrival on the scene, Zamudio pointed his weapon at a fellow responder who had taken Loughner’s firearm away when he was finally tackled. Zamudio admitted that he came very close to killing a fellow responder rather than a wrongdoer.

Police are generally given training on how and when to use a firearm in a dangerous situation. When private citizens receive training prior to issuance of a concealed carry permit, emphasis is placed on safe handling, transport and the right to self-defense – nothing on how to intervene as a proxy law-enforcement officer in a criminal situation. Law enforcement officers frequently oppose concealed carry laws because of the confusion a police officer faces when arriving at a crime scene. Rather than concentrating on the “bad-guys,” the officer may be forced to determine who is and who is not armed and why. So why is there a constant push to expand the right to carry, even to the point of allowing teachers to carry firearms in schools?

The National Rifle Association continues to push for expansion of gun rights, even when NRA members and ordinary citizens believe that expanded gun rights are a bad idea. Funding comes from organizations such as Xe (formerly Blackwater), Beretta, Browning, Glock, etc. These corporations donate millions (individually and collectively) to ensure the continued flow of firearms. NRA contributions also flow generously from the manufacturers of high-capacity magazines. Perhaps this explains the NRA’s opposition to proposed legislation limiting magazine sizes to avoid massacres by people such as Loughner, who used high-capacity magazines.

Rachel Maddow recently documented how an entire neighborhood, a short drive from where the NRA’s 2010 convention took place, has been devastated by gun violence. In 2012 (April 13-15), the NRA convention will come to St. Louis, a city that has also seen its share of gun violence. On a scale of 1 to 100, St. Louis scores a 1 for safety from crime. Perhaps a suitable reception could be organized by the organization that opposes even the most reasonable efforts to limit access to firearms. A late-night tour of the area for participants to give them an idea of what gun violence can do, perhaps?