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Our View: Enough delays on concealed carry

There is no need for further delay in passing a concealed-carry law in Illinois.

Many of our state’s politicians already have come to grips with this, including the state legislature, which passed a concealed-carry bill in its spring session.

But Gov. Pat Quinn has yet to sign the bill, which provides that the Illinois State Police “shall issue” a concealed-carry permit to anyone with a firearm owner’s identification card who passes a background check, pays a $150 fee and undergoes 16 hours of training. The measure would prohibit carrying weapons in places such as schools, bars, parks, public transportation and public buildings.

Meanwhile, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has received another monthlong extension to consider whether to appeal a court ruling that held citizens have the right to carry concealed weapons. Illinois had been given an July 9 deadline to enact a concealed carry law; the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday said Madigan could have until July 22 to appeal the ruling.

Why the foot-dragging? Do Madigan and Quinn think allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons will unleash a storm of gun violence in Illinois?

That hasn’t happened in the rest of the country – the other 49 states already have some kind of concealed-carry law.

What’s more, a storm of gun violence already is raining down in Illinois, particularly in Chicago, which is often mentioned as having special “urban issues” by concealed-carry opponents.

But it could be that the biggest urban issue is that the only people with guns are criminals and cops.

According to the Chicago Tribune, seven people were killed and 36 others were wounded in shooting incidents around Chicago from Friday afternoon through Sunday alone. Police killed one of the seven when he drew a gun on them after bailing out of a moving car, the Tribune reported.

Many of the shooters would be disqualified from carrying concealed weapons under the proposed concealed-carry measure sitting on the governor’s desk now. Not surprisingly, that didn’t seem to stop any of them.

At this point, it appears Illinois’ prohibition on concealed carry serves only to keep law-abiding gun owners from carrying weapons.

That’s not to say that a city – any city – where everyone is walking around with a gun would be a utopia.

No one wants to see shootouts in public places where innocent bystanders could have their lives put at risk.

Carrying a weapon is a tremendous responsibility. Many who weigh the proposition objectively conclude that carrying a weapon with them exponentially increases the chance they actually might use it. Unless a person is both physically and mentally prepared to enter into an armed confrontation with another – and possibly take their life – they shouldn’t carry a gun with them anywhere.

But those who are trained in the use of handguns and can be respectful of how and why they should be used should have the right to carry them. After all, people bent on using guns for ill are going to obtain and use them no matter what.

The potential for random people on the street to be carrying a weapon could give criminals pause as well, particularly in areas known to be dangerous.

This already is a reality for the rest of America. It’s time that it happened in Illinois as well.

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