Area police chiefs back conceal carry : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Area police chiefs back conceal carry |
|Final General Assembly approval likely months away |
|by Tony Scott|
Kendall County's leading law enforcement officials say they would be in favor of a law allowing concealed carry of firearms in Illinois.
Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of two appellants whose lawsuits against Attorney General Lisa Madigan had been dismissed by lower, district courts. The plaintiffs had argued that the state's ban of concealed carry was against the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In doing so, Posner struck a victory for those in favor of a concealed carry law in Illinois.
"To confine the right to be armed to the home is to divorce the Second Amendment from the right of self-defense," Posner wrote in his opinion.
Posner stated that Madigan's office did not provide the court with enough of a reason to enact a concealed carry ban.
"Illinois had to provide us with more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety," he wrote. "It has failed to meet this burden. The Supreme Court's interpretation of the Second Amendment therefore compels us to reverse the decisions in the two cases before us and remand them to their respective district courts for the entry of declarations of unconstitutionality and permanent injunctions."
The appellate court ordered that its mandate be stayed for six months "to allow the Illinois legislature to craft a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment as interpreted in this opinion, on the carrying of guns in public."
State Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, the state's House Republican leader, said this week that he doesn't expect the General Assembly to act on concealed carry during its brief January session.
"We're still trying to digest the ruling of the court; I haven't even read the opinion yet," he said. "My understanding is... they're going to give us time to do a bill, and what's in it, what's not in it, what the restrictions are, training."
Cross said each state has its own set of rules when it comes to carrying firearms in public.
"There are a variety of different approaches to doing this," he said. "Some states have it, but they make it so restrictive that, some would argue, some can't get it. Some states have very limited restrictions. So it's gonna take some time to sort through what's in and what's not in."
Strong support with
All of the major law enforcement officials in the county - Oswego Police Chief Dwight Baird, Yorkville Police Chief Rich Hart, Plano Police Chief Steven Eaves, Montgomery Police Chief Daniel Meyers, and Kendall County Sheriff Richard Randall - said they would be in favor of a law allowing concealed carry.
Baird said in talking to his colleagues in other states who he knows through his time at the FBI National Academy, there has been "a decline in crime, particularly violent crime... in most states."
In terms of officer safety, Baird said that police officers are trained to be ready and assume that any person they approach could be armed.
"When you go somewhere, you're always tactically ready to deal with a situation," he said. "So, it really doesn't make a difference to me."
Baird said that, "obviously, there needs to be some education with it."
"It's a personal choice" to carry a firearm, he said.
Baird suggested having a notification on driver's licenses to let officers know that the driver has a license to carry a concealed weapon.
In Michigan, drivers are required to immediately notify a police officer during a traffic stop if they have a concealed carry permit and are carrying a weapon, he said.
Baird said the costs of licensing concealed carry permits should be on those who apply for permits.
"I don't think the State of Illinois should raise taxes for it," he said. "I think if you want to carry a gun, that the cost of carrying that gun - attending the school, the licensing, the administrative stuff that goes with tracking it by the state - should be totally self-funded by the fees to carry that weapon."
Baird said he disagrees with those who insist that more gun control laws are necessary.
"I sat on a gun control committee one time in Chicago," he said. "They're talking about, 'We need to pass this gun law and this gun law.' And I stood up, and I was the only one from the suburbs outside of Cook County, and I said, 'Listen, I don't think we should make more gun laws, because it will make it harder on the people who already obey the laws.'"
He added, "I think we need to enforce the laws on the books and then, if they're eligible for five years in prison for being a convicted felon and carrying a weapon, then by gosh, they do five years."
Hart said he "wholeheartedly" supports allowing concealed carry "as long as there are certain restrictions and training requirements similar to a lot of other states."
"When I was at the FBI National Academy last year, I talked to a lot of people from states that have concealed carry, and I heard nothing but overwhelming support from all the other police chiefs and others that were in the class with me," he said. "There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what it is, and who can do it and who cannot."
Hart said it's "not usually law-abiding citizens that are causing problems with concealed carry, it's criminals who aren't allowed to lawfully carry concealed that are causing the problems."
Like Baird, Hart said current gun laws need to be enforced.
"If they ever wanted to get serious with gun crime, if you get caught with an illegal firearm or are in possession of a firearm if you're not supposed to, there ought to be some harsh, mandatory prison sentences," Hart said.
Hart also pointed out that, in many states, there is generally a small percentage of the population that carries concealed weapons.
For example, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), in 2011, Missouri, which has a population of about 4.4 million, issued 133,000 concealed carry permits; Wisconsin, which has a population of around 4.2 million, issued 40,000 permits; Iowa, which has a 2.2 million population, issued 243,000 permits; Indiana, with a population of 4.7 million, issued 406,000 permits; Michigan, with a 7.2 million population, issued 296,000 permits. With a total population of 22.7 million, that area issued 1,118,000 permits in 2011, which equals around five percent of the population on average.
concealed carry 'inevitable'
Meyers said some kind of concealed carry law is "inevitable" in Illinois.
"Illinois is the only state in the union that does not have concealed carry on the books," he said. "It's inevitable that it's gonna come. So I support it with the proper safeguards in place. I believe that we should have some mandatory training, I believe that someone - most likely the Illinois State Police - does a background check and they license it."
Meyers said people who learn to shoot should be familiar with "the consequences" of firing a gun.
"There's some civil liability when you use your handgun and take someone's life," he said. "I think people need to understand what they're getting involved in."
Meyers suggested that he has mixed feelings about concealed carry as a law enforcement officer.
"From a law enforcement perspective, do I want more guns out there? No," he said. "But I understand that this law is coming. With the court's ruling here, it is inevitable, so we might as well embrace it and put the proper safeguards in place."
Eaves said he has "absolutely no problem" with concealed carry "with the proper training, and some sort of phases of certification."
"Not to say that it would always be used to defend yourself, but you'd at least have a mechanism where you're trained, you're psychologically fit and you can defend yourself or your family if you needed to," he said.
Eaves said he is leaning toward supporting open carry of firearms.
"As long as you're trained," he said.
Randall said he supports concealed carry as long as there are "qualifications" and training.
"It's a constitutional issue," he said. "Every state except Illinois has concealed carry, and there are no more or less major issues than what goes on every day. As long as it's done with some semblance of certification and order, that's all we can ask."