Gun bill debate is premature
It's a little early to start debating changes in a gun law that is not yet in effect.
The concealed-carry law may be old hat in 49 of the 50 states, but it is new to Illinois.
Indeed, the concept is so new that it's not yet a reality, even though the Legislature passed concealed-carry legislation last year. The legislation is in the implementation process, meaning that the Illinois State Police are in the process of approving applications from interested gun owners.
State police say the first round of concealed-carry permits will not be sent until early March.
So, at best, Illinois' concealed-carry law remains in the experimentation stage, and there is no information on which to draw any conclusions.
People may have their opinions as to the wisdom of this legislation. But they have no Illinois-based facts on which to base those opinions.
Given that reality, it's hard to justify efforts by legislators on both sides of the issue who have drafted bills that will either loosen or restrict the rules.
The politics are easy to understand. Legislators on both sides of the issue are playing to the extremes.
State Sen. Kyle McCarter, a Republican from Lebanon who is pro-concealed carry, wants to expand the venues where people can carry sidearms to include public transportation. Rep. Kenneth Dunkin, a Chicago Democrat opposed to concealed carry, wants to bar patrons at all eating establishments from carrying a sidearm.
Illinois' concealed-carry law may well need modifications, but it would be in the public's best interest to sit back and watch what happens before reaching any conclusions about what those modifications, if any, ought to be.
It's no secret that concealed carry came to Illinois as the result of a federal court ruling that left legislators no choice but to approve and regulate it. The legislation that ultimately passed reflects difficult negotiations in which pro- and anti-gun legislators worked out differences of opinion to produce a bill each side found acceptable.
That neither side is happy with the final result reflects the reality of political give-and-take. Let's give that give-and-take a chance to work before changing the rules.