Illinois' experiment with concealed-carry will be very revealing.
Public officials, particularly those in Chicago, continue to do what they can to resist court rulings allowing private citizens the right to possess and carry firearms. But their campaign of massive resistance is proving futile as court rulings continue to pull the legal rug out from under them.
Last week, the Illinois State Police began accepting applications for concealed-carry permits and, within just a few days, received nearly 20,000 requests. Meanwhile, a federal judge struck down a Chicago ordinance that bars licensed gun stores from operating in the Windy City.
There is considerable debate about whether concealed-carry is a good idea, but it's certainly an idea whose time has come in Illinois, even in Chicago, where city officials banned firearm possession outright for many years. The ban often went unenforced, but it remained on the books until the federal courts first struck down the ban on possession in the home and then on concealed-carry.
Illinois is the last state in the union to allow concealed-carry, although it will not become a reality until the application approval process is complete. But it's off to a fast start.
It's our expectation that concealed-carry in Illinois will become a non-event that eventually will ease the concerns of gun-control advocates.
Why? The gun violence that so deeply and legitimately concerns the public mostly is caused by criminals misusing firearms, not law-abiding citizens who own and carry them for self-protection.
As a result of the concealed-carry legislation passed last year by the General Assembly, citizens who wish to obtain a concealed-carry permit must undergo 16 hours of training on the proper use of firearms and pass a background check.
Good character and training ought to resolve public-safety concerns. At the same time, the real threat to public safety will continue to be those individuals who unlawfully possess and use firearms.
Obviously, gun-control advocates vehemently disagree. But if they would look to the other 49 states where some form of concealed-carry is in place, they will not find much evidence that justifies their fears about what will happen in Illinois.
Conversely, if problems do result and can be addressed by legislative action, concealed-carry advocates must be prepared to acknowledge them and press for a solution. A citizen's right to concealed-carry has been affirmed by the courts; how that right is to be implemented safely in Illinois remains subject to speculation that eventually either will be proved or disproved. Let the evidence generated by the ongoing implementation of the state's concealed-carry law be everyone's guide.