House gun debate wasted exercise

House gun debate wasted exercise

Gun control and gun violence are two separate issues.

The Illinois House of Representatives held a wide-open debate Tuesday over the issue of concealed-carry.

Prompted by a federal appeals court ruling striking down Illinois' ban on concealed-carry, legislators, acting at the behest of all-powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan, cast a series of votes identifying locales — churches, public transportation, bars — where people may or may not carry firearms.

It's a fair bet that Madigan is more motivated by politics than policy in arranging these votes. When it comes to politics, Madigan is acknowledged as a tactical genius. When it comes to his policy chops, all one needs to know is that Illinois is effectively bankrupt.

Unfortunately, this legislative debate — like so much else in state government — missed the real point.

Gun control advocates mistakenly link their policy stance to efforts to reduce or eliminate the gun violence that scars many urban areas, particularly the city of Chicago.

The reality is that gun control and gun violence are two separate and distinct issues.

But don't take our word for it. Here's what Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy recent told a state House committee.

"I have not seen an illegal gun offender who possesses an FOID card. It just doesn't happen. The gang members are criminals. They're not eligible to receive those cards. ... I have no concern with legal guns. I have a great concern with illegal guns," he said.

In other words, those people who scrupulously adhere to the law don't pose a public safety threat, whether the law allows concealed-carry or not. Those who don't follow the law do as they please.

The Legislature is, assuming one believes it is acting in good faith, trying to fashion a workable concealed-carry law. It will include a number of mandates, including training on the proper use of firearms and background checks as conditions of receiving a license to carry a firearm. When this legislation is enacted, law-abiding citizens will comply.

But right now, illegal concealed-carry is common in Illinois. These carriers don't care about law, no matter what the Legislature does.

If Illinois legislators are looking for a model to follow in passing concealed-carry legislation, they have 49 examples to study — the concealed-carry legislation passed by the other 49 states, all of which have lower levels of gun crime than Chicago. If legislators believe that what they are doing will have an impact on violent crime, they're just spinning their wheels.

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