Farmer Brown had a large chicken coop on his property. He noticed that foxes were getting in and stealing and eating his chickens, so he determined that he needed to fence it in.
Farmer Brown sought permission from the local government for a high fence. Immediately, the wheels of government started to turn:
- Deputy Fox had him fill out some forms,
- Sheriff Coyote checked his fingerprints,
- County Clerk Jackal processed his applications and his filing fee;
- Judge Wolf supervised an audit of Farmer Brown’s friends and doctors to make a determination on his medical and psychological health.
Finally, the local government granted Farmer Brown’s request, and allowed him to build an 8’ high fence all around his chicken coops.
There was just one condition: Every eight feet, there had to be a two foot wide, three foot high opening in the fence so that the foxes could get in and out without injuring themselves. And of course, Sheriff Coyote would send Deputy Fox in for inspections once a month at random, just to make sure that the mandatory openings hadn’t been closed off, and, while he was at it, to make sure that the chickens were still tasty.
Farmer Brown was beginning to wonder if it would be worth all the bother after all…
The Reasons for Concealed Carry
Since the great State of Illinois contains a corrupt obstacle to freedom in its northeast corner, this primarily rural, pro-hunting, pro-self-defense state has long had to contend with unconstitutional restrictions on the use and possession of firearms. The Chicago Democrat voting block stymied all efforts to obey the 2nd Amendment in Illinois for decades. Finally, in 2013, a federal judge’s ruling gave the forces of freedom just enough support to pass a Concealed Carry law, making Illinois the 50th state to finally allow what the Constitution said could never have been forbidden in the first place.
Why did Illinoisans fight so hard for this right? It wasn’t for hunting, or home defense, or target practice, though all three of these are clearly also protected by the 2nd Amendment. The clamor for concealed carry is rooted in the right of the law-abiding citizen to defend himself, his family, and his fellow citizens from villains, another of the many rights guaranteed in this crucial amendment.
There’s an old saying: “When seconds count, the police are minutes away.”
This isn’t an indictment of police – 2nd Amendment supporters certainly also fully support the service of our police and troopers – but it is an indictment of the foolhardy idea that, if you have police, then individuals don’t ever have to defend themselves.
The Left would have us believe that all anyone needs is a telephone and the knowledge of how to dial 911, but the truth is much different; most crimes take just seconds, or a few minutes at most.
On the contrary, the response time of even the best and most responsible police force is anywhere from several minutes to half an hour or more, depending on the area – city, suburban, or rural – and a host of other issues that change from moment to moment,.
In reality, therefore, police can hardly ever stop a crime in process; usually their job is a combination of paperwork and pursuit. Nothing wrong with this; it’s just the way it is. That’s why they call it “police work” – you call the police, they work hard to find the perpetrator and collect evidence for his trial.
You can’t expect the police to respond faster than the laws of physics will allow. They have to receive the call, dispatch the car, drive to the location of the crime… with sidewalk robberies, alley muggings, home invasions, and building alcove rapes, there is simply no way for the police to help in the moment unless they fortunately just happen to be nearby at the very moment when the crime is in progress.
Also in recent years, the number of multiple killings by madmen has escalated. With terrorists in malls, mass killers in schools, and psychos in cinemas, it finally became obvious even to some formerly on the fence in Springfield that good, honorable individuals do indeed need to be empowered, just in case.
If the only people with guns are the killers, society is at great risk. But if there are plenty of law-abiding armed citizens present at all times, the odds are good that the crime will be stopped, or the killing spree will be ended, much sooner, and with fewer fatalities… and perhaps, after the press reports that the tide has been turning for awhile, such killers might even be dissuaded entirely,
So the state – forced by a federal judge – finally passed a concealed carry bill. Will that make Illinois safer, as such bills have always done, wherever they’re tried?
The Chink in the Armor
Fans of J.R. R. Tolkien’s classic novel, “The Hobbit,” will remember that the vicious man-eating dragon, Smaug, was mostly covered in jewel-like scales, as if he were armored for battle – but he had a small gap that a well-aimed arrow just might permeate.
Searching for such gaps – “the chink in the armor” – has always been one of the first duties of any warrior. Don’t waste your efforts landing blows that won’t work; look instead for the gaps where you’ll be able to get through.
By the same token, the job of a military engineer is to design defenses with as few gaps as possible. You build a defense as impermeable as possible, and then you hunt for weak points, and reinforce them too, before you declare the job complete.
Similarly, legislators should take their time in crafting a bill – identifying its flaws, correcting them at the committee stage or in the amendment process, so that the final bill that passes both houses and gets sent up to the executive for his signature is as perfect as political realities allow. That’s the way it should be, anyway.
What did we learn when this bill passed, in the summer of 2013? And what more have we learned about it, since the law went into effect?
Well, we knew that the Constitutional requirement that the right to keep and bear arms was still going to be unconstitutionally abridged – the bill requires good law-abiding citizens to apply for and receive a permit before carrying a concealed weapon. It’s unconstitutional, but it was a compromise necessary to pass the bill.
We knew that the bill would require background checks, training, and a license fee. While this also doesn’t sound like something the Founding Fathers would have approved, we have become so conditioned to training requirements, permitting and governmental fees, the public was resigned to it.
And of course we knew that private establishments would have the right to ban weapons on their own property, if they put up a sign. We should respect that right too, so rather than anger, we should really be proud that our state respects the rights of private businesses enough to allow them to determine whether their customers should be allowed in if legally armed.
But we have also been learning, since the bill’s passage, that the new law exempts a Lot of places from the freedom to carry a concealed weapon. In fact, the new law makes it a felony for even a legitimate concealed-carrier to enter thousands of places in Illinois while armed.
Before we consider that list, let’s recall the main reasons for concealed carry: because there are lots of well-armed criminals who pose a threat to our streets, neighborhoods, shopping malls, churches and schools. Having a an armed law-abiding population at the same places might deter crime, as well as help stop it faster when it happens.
Not everyone has to be armed for this to work; if there’s one armed thug and 99 unarmed citizens, the thug is an individual threat to each of them. But if just five of those potential targets are armed, and the thug doesn’t know which five, the fact of their presence has a deterrent effect on the thug, which protects not just the concealed carrier himself, but everybody there.
Every location that you exempt from this wonderful program is another chink in the armor, another weakening of a defense program that could have been more effective without the exceptions.
Illinois’ self-destructive approach
The state of Illinois bans concealed carriers from schools. We have seen school shootings in Illinois: the terrible Northern Illinois University shooting was just a few years ago, in 2008… Laurie Dann’s attack on Hubbard Woods Elementary in Winnetka was farther back, in 1988. We have thousands of school buildings across the state, schools that could be much safer if just a few teachers or just a few administrators were trained and armed. But no, the Democrat majority in Springfield insisted that schools be left out of this life-saving program.
The state of Illinois bans concealed carriers from public transportation terminals, such as CTA and RTA trains and train stations, or buses and bus terminals. Residents of every large city know that public transit is often a hangout for miscreants, and that muggings and worse occur in such places all the time. Illinoisans have seen thugs rape, mug, and even kill for as little as a coat or cellphone at our CTA stops in recent years. They would be immeasurably safer places, for both the concealed carrier and all the unarmed potential victims as well, if just a few percent of the people on a bus, train, or platform are armed. But the Democrat majority in Springfield insisted that riders of public transit don’t deserve protection; these bus and train riders must remain victims, by law.
The state of Illinois bans concealed carriers from public parks. Now, people walk through public parks all the time, either as their intended destination or as a point along a longer route. Public parks have trees and bushes, behind which all sorts of crimes take place all the time, particularly on summer nights. From drive-by shootings to muggings and rapes, in a bad neighborhood, sometimes the worst place to be is in the city park. How might that change if five or ten percent of the people sitting at park benches and picnic tables were law-abiding citizens, properly trained and legally armed? We’ll never know. The Democrat majority in Springfield insisted that, as park-goers have always been sitting ducks for crime, so must they remain, for now and for the foreseeable future, by law.
As the list goes on, we see concealed-carriers banned from municipal buildings, post offices, schools, parks, parade routes… practically every government-operated place where strangers come into contact with each other and some protection would be appreciated.
We also see the state government ramp up an information campaign to notify private businesses of how to legally ban concealed-carry at their businesses too. Springfield has declared the minimum dimensions of the sign, provided sample images to use, and laid out clear rules on where such signs can be displayed. Killings occur in cinemas, shopping malls, restaurants, and stores too… the flash mobs of recent summers have made even Chicago’s best shopping districts a dangerous place for honest folk, jeopardizing the local economy as well as the lives of our residents.
Some percentage of shoppers, theatergoers, or diners, trained and armed, would improve the security of all the customers of such establishments. But the Democrat majority in Springfield doesn’t want them protected.
Every time a crime is foiled by an armed target or nearby good Samaritan, the nation may be safer, but the political Left feels threatened. The public’s vulnerability is their stock-in-trade; empower the individual and you weaken the state in the process. A true American sees no threat in that tradeoff, but many in power today are hardly true Americans.
Upon careful review, we find that Illinois has built a suit of armor with nothing but gaps in it. The concealed-carry process that has been so helpful in reducing crime in so many states has been stymied in Illinois. You can’t start a day of errands with a handgun, holstered and ready at your side, having to take it out and magically transmaterialize it out of the way at every other stop. If your day involves a mall, a post office, some free standing stores, and your place of employment, what can you do? You must leave your weapon behind.
The result is that – despite having a law authorizing concealed carry in general, and a manageable licensing process to implement it – the state of Illinois has managed to ensure that nearly every location where crime has always been a danger will remain exactly the same danger it was before.
Thinking back on the negotiations that resulted in the law now on the books, one begins to wonder who the denizens of Springfield were looking, first and foremost, to protect: the law-abiding potential victims, or the robbers, rapists, and killers who threaten them at every turn.
Copyright 2014 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade compliance trainer. A former county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he has now been a recovering politician for over 16 years. His columns are found regularly in Illinois Review.
Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the byline and IR URL are included. Follow John F. Di Leo on Facebook or LinkedIn, or on Twitter at @johnfdileo.