EDITORIALS

Give concealed carry a shot in Illinois

Staff Writer
Washington Times-Reporter

The United States Constitution has long defended the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. However, anyone researching gun laws in the United States can easily see this is not a clear-cut issue, with each state having its own version of “gun control.”

Since a bill permitting concealed-carry was proposed in Illinois earlier this year, the Internet has been ablaze with heated arguments spewing from both sides.

Aside from the strong emotional responses gun control commonly elicits, both sides have many well-versed arguments.

It is simple to maintain that more guns in the wrong hands leads to an increased risk of violence. And, it has been just as easy to argue the opposite — more guns in reasonable hands can be a deterrent of violence.

The arguments for both sides are strong.

“We need fewer guns, not more. It’s the increased circulation of guns I have a dispassion for,” said Peoria County State’s Attorney Kevin Lyons.

This is the simple argument that more guns equals more gun crime — makes sense.

The rebuttal: Proponents of the deterrent theory say more guns in the hands of the right people means more criminals hesitant to use their own gun or to even attempt a crime.

The rebuttal to the rebuttal: Deterrent theory does not work because it causes escalation of the situation. In this scenario, criminals are actually more likely to use a gun to preempt their victim’s use of a gun.

In a society where it is always better to be safe than sorry, one would think the concealed carry debate would not be so ... debatable. But, it is exactly why every vehicle in America is required to have air bags. It is why the airport is so heavily monitored. Because, even if the chances of having a gun pointed between one's eyes are less than a thousandth of a percent, there is always going to be a fear that it could happen.

And, if it could happen, everyone should have the right to protect themselves.

As a recent example, a gunman, who reportedly developed a mental illness after contracting Lyme disease, calmly walked down the aisle of a church in Maryville during services one Sunday in March.

The alleged gunman, 27-year-old Terry Joe Sedlacek, opened fire on the pastor, who later died of the gunshot wounds.

The pastor’s only defense was the Bible from which he read during that morning’s service. He reportedly held it up to shield himself from the barrage of bullets.

While this scenario has not played out in Central Illinois, there is no shortage of violence. Citizens deserve the right to protect themselves in such a situation.

The questions surrounding the issue cannot be answered until Illinois residents have an opportunity to carry concealed weapons.

Currently, 48 states have a concealed carry law of some sort permitting law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms. Illinois and Wisconsin are the only holdouts.

For those citizens willing to take on the responsibility of carrying a gun legally, that right should exist. 

We need strong measures to govern this issue, such as those proposed by the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association.

That association suggests permits should be issued by a state agency to ensure consistency in evaluation and screening. They say training should be mandatory. They want applications processed by the local sheriff’s office. And, they suggest those with a concealed carry permit have identification so an officer knows they may be armed.

The key to this argument is responsibility.

Those who follow the legal route to carry a concealed weapon are certainly more responsible than the criminal element walking our streets packing guns and using them with some regularity.  

Make concealed carry legal in Illinois.