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Brown: Doing nothing about conceal-carry may prompt lawmakers to do something

Updated: August 4, 2013 6:37AM



Six days, seven hours, 49 minutes, 53 seconds ... 52 ... 51 ... 50 ... 49 ... 48.

A clock on the Illinois State Rifle Association’s website on Tuesday was ticking down the time until, presumably, a federal appeals court ruling from last December makes it legal to carry a gun in public in Illinois.

The clock is due to run out Monday at midnight.

And then what, exactly?

Worst case scenario: Illinois meets the Old West with anybody owning a Firearm Owners Identification Card free to strap on a pair of six-shooters — or throw a semi-automatic rifle over his shoulder — and stroll down Michigan Avenue (or Main Street in Peoria.)

That’s why many Illinois lawmakers say their only choice is to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s rewrite of legislation that would regulate the state’s first foray into the world of legalized concealed carry, the last state in the U.S. to take the leap.

Quinn used his amendatory veto Tuesday to tighten up the proposed law and challenged lawmakers to uphold his “common sense” changes. Most of Quinn’s fixes do make some sense to those of us on this side of the great gun debate — such as limiting a person to one concealed gun and prohibiting them from taking it into restaurants where alcohol is served.

But given the difficult negotiations that went into passing a bill — complicated by gun rights groups having leverage because of the court ruling and deadline — upholding Quinn’s veto is not going to happen, lawmakers assure me.

For Quinn’s changes to take effect, the Legislature must agree.

Which is why I would like to throw out another alternative that I admit up front will strike many as totally irresponsible.

Let’s do it. Let the gun owners have their way. Just don’t bother overriding Quinn’s veto. Allow the deadline to pass. We’ll sort it out later.

They tell us how much safer we’ll all be once all the “responsible” gun owners are packing. I can’t wait.

I just want to experience the promised nirvana of living in a wide-open, gun-loving state without actually having to move to one of those god-forsaken places.

And why stop at concealed carry? Let’s go straight to open carry, so we can see who the gun-toters are among us. No sense in anybody being bashful.

Then after we’ve had a chance to experience what that’s like, maybe people will awake from their slumber and let legislators know what a concealed-carry law really should include.

I’m tired of being bullied by this threat of what will happen if the court deadline passes without a concealed-carry law in place.

Let’s see how far Judge Richard Posner and his fellow judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals want to push this. Maybe they’d just like to write their own law.

Nobody can say for sure what happens next Tuesday if Illinois lawmakers fail to override Quinn’s amendatory veto. Likely it goes back to the courts. Maybe Attorney General Lisa Madigan will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court (not to suggest that as a wise course of action either.)

The first knucklehead in Chicago to spontaneously test the limits of his new gun rights is probably going to find himself spread-eagle on the sidewalk with a contingent of the city’s finest barking orders at him. I don’t wish that situation on the police, but I trust in their training.

It probably wouldn’t take more than two or three such incidents before many of the lawmakers who voted for the concealed carry bill try harder to get it right.

By then, at least, their constituents might be paying attention.

The notion of ignoring the court-ordered deadline is hardly original to me. Senate President John Cullerton openly toyed with the idea for a time before backing off.

Part of the theory is that home-rule communities such as Chicago could enact their own bans. Obviously, that could get messy, and gun owners argue their rights shouldn’t depend on their ZIP code.

To those who believe that there’s nothing wrong with having the right to carry a gun in public, I will admit that I’ve noticed the other 49 states have allowed this in some form without making me fearful of traveling beyond Illinois’ borders. (Okay, Wyoming gave me the heebie-jeebies.)

But if we’re going to do this in Illinois, we ought to have a bill closer to the one outlined by Quinn than the one that passed the Legislature.

I just checked back on the Rifle Association’s website, where the countdown continues ... 34 seconds ... 33 ... 32.

Let it tick.



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