"I think it's important that we stress that public safety comes first." - Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D).
If that's the case, why is Governor Quinn so adamantly opposed to allowing citizens of his state to exercise their constitutional right to protect themselves with firearms?
The battle started last December when a federal appeals court ruled Illinois's ban on concealed carry of firearms unconstitutional. With the ruling came an order for the Illinois legislature to craft a law that would allow citizens to obtain concealed weapons permits and carry firearms in public. The legislature came through and passed, with vetoproof majorities, the Family and Personal Protection Act, eliminating the state's longtime ban on firearms. Governor Pat Quinn has taken steps to restrict citizens' Second Amendment rights, but this is one battle he is sure to lose.
Illinois House Bill 183 gives the people of Illinois the right to carry firearms. Certain restrictions exist that prohibit carrying a firearm in places such as schools, courthouses, and government buildings, among others. The bill has restrictions for mental health. In order to obtain a permit, a fee of $150 must be paid and the applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Have a valid Firearm Owners Identification card
- Be at least 21 years old
- Complete the required 16 hours of firearms training
- Not have any convictions for violent misdemeanors in the past five years
- Not have two or more DUI convictions in the past five years
Needless to say, the bill also prohibits a person from carrying a firearm while intoxicated.
Governor Quinn is decrying these developments as reckless and dangerous for the people of his state. His revision of the bill would return authority to home-rule communities, giving mayors and other leaders of counties and municipalities the ability to restrict citizens' rights regarding firearms (including banning "military-style assault weapons" and instituting other regulations), as well as banning firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol. The bill as passed by the legislature would require businesses, churches, and other similar organizations to post signs outside if they wish to prohibit people from carrying a firearm on their property. Under Governor Quinn's revision, the opposite would be true as organizations would be required to post signs indicating the allowance of carry on their property (read all of his revisions here).
Asked about how he believes the legislature will vote on overriding his veto, Governor Quinn replied, “I don’t believe in compromising public safety. I don’t believe in negotiating public safety and I don’t believe that the National Rifle Association is an authority on public safety.”
This is where we realize how Governor Quinn will lose this battle. If he were truly concerned about safety, the governor would recognize that statistics prove that concealed carry reduces crime rates. A congressional study found these results: "The general conclusion of this study, that concealed weapons deter crime, has been replicated and confirmed by other scholars." The NRA has concluded, and the study supports, that according to the FBI's Annual Uniform Crime Report, states that widely allow concealed carry have 22% lower violent crime rates, 30% lower murder rates, 46% lower robbery rates, and 12% lower aggravated assault rates than the rest of the country.
There are countless stories of gun owners who have been able to defend themselves, their families, or their property because they owned a firearm. Professor John Lott's studies have shown that from 2007 to 2010, only five in more than half a million permit holders in my home state of Florida were involved in a criminal case, debunking claims that concealed carry will cause a spike in crime with legal firearms.
In Chicago alone in 2012, 532 people were murdered. The year before that number was 441, bringing an increase of 91 deaths. Reports also show that from January 1, 2012, to December 25, 2012, 2,670 people were shot in Chicago, up from 2,217 the year before. Articles have been written that tell how strict gun laws are failing to stem the tide of murders that occur in Chicago each year. As these numbers continue to rise even this year, it is highly unlikely that contrasting these statistics with those found in states like Florida, the Illinois legislature would allow Governor Quinn to continue to put citizens in the role of prey.
The evidence in favor of the Second Amendment is widely available. Governor Quinn's claims that the Illinois legislature's original bill will put the public in danger are both unfounded and absurd, and with statistics directly contradicting his words, the governor has a very steep uphill battle ahead of him to restrict the rights of Illinois citizens.