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Local Column

Olson: Gun owners wait plenty long already

Several handguns sit behind a display case at Sterling & Knight Pawn & Jewelry in Bolingbrook.
Several handguns sit behind a display case at Sterling & Knight Pawn & Jewelry in Bolingbrook.

Among the new laws that took effect for 2019 is one in Illinois that mandates a three-day waiting period before you can buy any gun.

It’s supposed to be a “cooling off” period – the assumption being that if you’re given a gun the same day you pay for it, you might immediately go shoot someone with it – and the government wants you to take a few days to think it over.

It seems to me as just another way to inconvenience people who want to buy guns. What would be better is if people were required to receive some kind of training or instruction before buying a deadly weapon.

There’s already a significant waiting period before you can buy a gun in Illinois. First, you have to apply for a Firearm Owner’s Identification card from the Illinois State Police. There’s a form with several questions you have to answer, and you have to submit a photo of yourself.

The police do a background check on you and then mail you a FOID card that expires 10 years after it’s issued. I applied for one this summer and received it in the mail weeks later.

Another thing I did for the first time this summer was buy a motorcycle. It was a lot more complicated.

Before I could legally ride a motorcycle, I took a three-day, 20-hour safety course at Elgin Community College through the Illinois Department of Transportation that included classroom and riding instruction. It cost nothing but my time, and not long after, I had an endorsement added to my license. (I’d have had to take a driving test at the Secretary of State office if I didn’t take the class.)

Then I bought a motorcycle, helmet and other gear. I registered the bike with the state, added it to my insurance and finally hit the road.

I never bought a gun. Although now that I have my FOID card, I can do so whenever I choose. All I have to do to buy a deadly weapon is find a gun store, plunk down a few hundred bucks (or more), pass a couple more background checks, sign some forms … and wait a few days.

I will not be required to receive any training, pass any test or buy any insurance. That doesn’t seem quite right. I have but limited experience in shooting – if I ever do decide to buy a gun, I’ll probably seek out one of the many people in the area who offer firearms training courses first.

People who have owned and fired guns for years should be able to walk out of the store with them the same day they buy them.

If we want Illinoisans to be better gun owners, we should worry less about how long they wait to get their hands on a gun, and more about how competent they are handling one when they do.

• Eric Olson is general manager of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2257, email eolson@shawmedia.com or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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