Champaign County’s highest law-enforcement official, Sheriff Dan Walsh, was our first speaker of the evening at the January 14, 2014 Guns Save Life meeting in Rantoul, IL. He tackled some of the questions on everyone’s mind about the new concealed carry bill.
“This is a miserably written law that’s very difficult to read,” Walsh began. He’s got no shortage of criticisms of the law law and its provisions – and to a lesser extent the Illinois State Police’s re-invention of the wheel in terms of how to implement carry in Illinois.
“I just got my password at 4:45pm today,” Mr. Walsh said, referring to the password needed to access the Illinois State Police’s list of applicants.
Walsh’s department will need that password to peruse the list and file any objections to applicants they believe would be unsafe or a risk to the community. “We’re still developing the protocol we’re going to use to evaluate the applicants,” Walsh said. “This is all so very new.”
In terms of how area police agencies are going to handle interactions with licensees, Walsh said it will be up to each to develop their own procedures and policies.
Walsh did work with the Police Training Institute to develop a generic Power Point presentation for cops, distilling most encounters down to five outcomes ranging from disarming the licensee and arresting them for offenses like outstanding warrants to simply asking the licensee not to reach for the gun or make any sudden movements.
“The cop can take the gun or do nothing,” Walsh said of what licensees should expect in minor police encounters like traffic stops. “It’s completely up to the cop and his or her agency.”
“Do what the officer asks though,” Walsh cautioned – and don’t reach for it to show the officer. “I can’t think of a more dangerous thing for you to do.”
Walsh is critical of the long list of prohibited locations. “Basically, if it’s built or operated with taxpayer dollars, odds are you can’t carry there.”
The sheriff intends to encourage cops to give a great deal of latitude in their enforcement of the prohibited locations. “Fortunately I have a lot of influence with the sheriff’s office,” he joked.
He offered one example of something he’s inflexible on: The law says the gun must be unloaded before a licensee steps out of the car to secure it in the truck in a prohibited area. “We will not make an arrest for this,” he explained. “The last thing I want is people unloading and loading guns in the passenger compartment of their cars.” From a safety standpoint, he noted that this is a recipe for disaster.
He reiterated his belief this new law is “a nightmare” and then began answering individual questions for the better part of fifteen or twenty minutes.
The answer to some of those questions included: No, you may not carry a stun gun with an IL concealed carry license. Yes, the sheriffs in Central Illinois think very similarly to Sheriff Walsh. No, the Illinois State Police aren’t seeking a quota for arrests under the new law. Yes, if asked, you must acknowledge the presence of the gun if you’re carrying it on or around your person in the car.
Asked how his deputies will be encouraged to handle prohibited locations, the sheriff suggested that if a gun is noticed or reported in a prohibited area, a deputy would ask the individual to take the gun out to their car. If a gun isn’t mostly concealed, deputies will ask that it be properly concealed.
“If a gun is well concealed, it’s not going to be an issue,” he said. “Concealed means concealed.”
If you acknowledge your mistake as an oversight and make it right, you shouldn’t be too worried about enforcement action being taken at least initially, Walsh noted for the audience.
In other words, don’t act like a jack-wagon.
“If you tell the deputy to go pound sand then you’re probably going to go to jail.”