by Don Gwinn
Sangamon County Rifle Association Chairman
(GunsSaveLife) – My friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed the holidays and the Polar Vortex, because it’s about to get pretty busy around here for anyone with an interest in gun rights.
Law makers, local business owners and national corporations are all going to be making big decisions about gun rights in Springfield and Illinois soon, with some of the biggest being what role to play in implementing, blocking, or ignoring the arrival of private citizens with hard-won carry permits and concealed firearms.
And speaking of hard-won victories, while we’re reaching out to business owners and managers, Illinois Gun Owner Lobbying Day is fast approaching. On Wednesday, March 5th, gun owners will flex our grassroots muscle again by flooding the capitol with thousands of advocates. This is something the other side simply cannot hope to do themselves, and they know it. If you can get to the Capitol that day and bring at least one friend who hasn’t come before, you’ll be a more effective advocate anybody the other side has working in Illinois—and have fun doing it. But the fight has expanded beyond the state house into the public eye.
The lawmakers return to the Capitol in Springfield and sessions will begin in earnest in February.
2013 was a humiliating year for anti-gun politicians in Illinois and it would be smart to bet that they’ll be looking to roll back concealed carry; Gun News has already reported on Sheriff Tom Dart’s attempt to badger the Illinois State Police into allowing his Cook County Sheriff Department to go on illegal fishing expeditions using the LEADS database. Legislators like Kotowski, meanwhile, have floated proposals to require business owners to “opt in” to allow carry.
Unfortunately for them, they’ve got math problems. For years, they could rely on House Speaker Mike Madigan to veto any right-to-carry bill by ruling that it required a supermajority in the House—not just a majority—to override home rule. Gun owners consistently fell just short with simple majorities for strong shall-issue concealed carry bills, not to mention defeating new gun control year after year. But now that the Firearm Concealed Carry Act is Illinois law, it can be amended with a simple majority. Speaker Madigan can still play games, but gun owners, if we stay active and united, can stop anti-gun legislators from undoing Illinois’ progress—and make our own improvements.
The other bad news for the other side is that, after decades of counting on most Illinois citizens to believe that only crazy radicals carry guns in public, they’re about to have to defend that notion daily as people work out whether to carry and business owners see the results of their decisions in real time.
As of this writing, ALDI, County Market and Walmart have all indicated that their Springfield stores will welcome legal carriers of firearms, while Shop ‘N Save will prohibit carry. It will be our task to be sure that the managers of these stores see that their choices have consequences by making it clear that we avoid the stores where we’re not welcome and take our money with us.
That will be inconvenient at times, but it’s an opportunity we didn’t have last year, and believe me, the other side has no reason to be happy about fighting us on this public grassroots level. This game, with ordinary people seeing gun ownership for themselves and deciding what they think of it, plays to our strengths.
Our challenge is to stay focused, stay united, and stay on the offensive. Theirs is to stay afloat somehow.
Speaking staying on the offensive, the Sangamon County Rifle Association meeting is coming quickly. It’s going to be held on Monday evening, February 3rd, unless we have another Polar Vortex combined with another 12″ of snow.
The meeting lineup is as follows, per Chairman Gwinn:
Josh Witkowski will update on legislation,
Tom Shafer will talk about IGOLD,
Joel Gain will explain how we distribute Gun News and how members can help,
Brian Smith will discuss how we contribute to gun shows,
Tech Time will be Don Gwinn showing off an original Remington Model 51 in .32 acp
as Remington tries to launch the new R-51. How about that!?