(Reprinted as received)
My name is Donnie Pridemore. I am a Detective Lieutenant for an Illinois police department. I have collateral assignments as a long time police firearms instructor, and tactical team assistant team leader for a bi-state, multi-jurisdictional tactical team that operates in both Iowa and Illinois. On the weekends, I am an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor and Illinois Concealed Carry Instructor. I teach classes most weekends and sometimes during the week. I am obviously very pro-second amendment, and conservative in political views.
Today, when I came to work I noticed one of my officers had a copy of your January 2014 issue of GunNews. I had not heard of your publication before, and began reading through it. I was very pleased with what I found in your publication. That is, until I got to page 23. At the top of the page is an article titled “Don’t be a dummy! Say “No!” to searches”. This article was evidently produced in the year 2004 by a now deceased attorney named Paul Vallandigham. This is important for a couple of reasons. The first is that since it was written by an attorney, he of course wants to tell everyone to refuse consent to search when requested by a police officer. I don’t think it takes a Rocket Scientist to figure out that private criminal defense attorneys make their living from defending people accused of crimes. Having their clients consent to a search where contraband is found does not help their case. This is one sided, and does not give the perspective of what a police officer might advise someone who has nothing to hide. That is, however, your perogative to print articles like this. Now, for the second and most alarming aspect of this article. The article was written BEFORE the passing of concealed carry in Illinois. Because of this, at the time it was written, the “advice” given was lawful. However, since the passing of concealed carry in Illinois, the advice that if asked if there are any guns or weapons in the car the answer is always “No”, would be illegal! Is it really a good idea to give advice your readers to violate a law that took us so long to get? The section regarding this situation reads as follows:
(430 ILCS 66/) Firearm Concealed Carry Act. Section 10 (h)
(h) If an officer of a law enforcement agency initiates an investigative stop, including but not limited to a traffic stop, of a licensee or a non-resident carrying a concealed firearm under subsection (e) of Section 40 of this Act, upon the request of the officer the licensee or non-resident shall disclose to the officer that he or she is in possession of a concealed firearm under this Act, present the license upon the request of the officer if he or she is a licensee or present upon the request of the officer evidence under paragraph (2) of subsection (e) of Section 40 of this Act that he or she is a non-resident qualified to carry under that subsection, and identify the location of the concealed firearm. During a traffic stop, any passenger within the vehicle who is a licensee or a non-resident carrying under subsection (e) of Section 40 of this Act must comply with the requirements of this subsection (h).
Being a believer in the Constitution, I certainly don’t have a problem with anyone exercising their right to refuse a request to search their vehicle. However, advising or encouraging illegal acts will only give reason to those that oppose concealed carry more “ammunition”, if you will, to use against us. The other unfortunate circumstance of this article is that I will not be able to subscribe and support your publication. I cannot have my name associated with any organization that promotes illegal activity, especially after it took us so long to get concealed carry in Illinois.
Donnie R. Pridemore
Quad City Firearms Training Center
The Editor Emeritus replies:
by John Boch
Mr. Pridemore is correct in that the original article was written in 2004 by a founding member of Guns Save Life’s predecessor organization, a criminal defense attorney who represented clients both guilty and innocent.
Mr. Vallandigham was well-known for providing sound legal advice at no charge, including his strong recommendation to decline any police searches of homes, persons or vehicles, and the reason why: there’s nothing but downside to waiving your privacy rights. Good people can be caught up in laws they don’t even know exist by consenting to voluntary searches.
Mr. Pridemore, after trotting out the “if you’ve got nothing to hide” meme that is a favorite of police officers everywhere, then points out that Vallandigham’s (any by extension, Guns Save Life’s) advice is contradictory to the new Firearms Concealed Carry Act, citing a section from that law. He is correct in rare circumstances.
Sadly, Mr. Vallandigham passed away before he could even see Illinois’ new law, which will impact maybe 3% of Illinois’ population and only then if they are carrying a loaded firearm on or about their person.
Those seeking licensure will have had specific training in how to handle disclosure to a police officer if asked if they are carrying a concealed weapon. Yes, if you are carrying a loaded gun on or about your person under the provisions of the FCCA, if asked, you are required to notify the officer that you are carrying. If you are not covered by the FCCA, you are not required to volunteer that you have a gun – unloaded and encased, for example – to the police officer.
Doing so, particularly in northeastern Illinois, could result in lengthy delays in your travel plans, as some officers don’t understand the law, or will use acknowledgement that there’s an unloaded and encased firearm as a license to conduct a thorough search of the vehicle and its occupants as part of a fishing expedition.
In fact, you don’t have to go to Chicagoland to find police officers who reportedly say they will take a hard line on gun owners who transport their firearms outside their homes. As an example, at the Rantoul general members meeting, one guest said that the Chief Bane from the Paxton Police Department, as well as some Illinois State Police troopers have reportedly all said they would arrest a FOID-cardholder carrying an unloaded gun in a fanny pack, which is perfectly legal in the State of Illinois and has been for nearly fifteen years.
As for Mr. Pridemore not wishing to associate with Guns Save Life, we regret he can’t look past his police officer bias against those educating citizens about their civil rights and explaining the upside to exercising them. GSL membership, like firearm ownership, isn’t for everyone.
If you, gentle reader, would like to join an edgy civil-rights organization not afraid to be aggressive and outspoken in the support of all Constitutional rights, not just firearm ownership, you too can join Guns Save Life and become part of our family. We’re not perfect, but we have yet to meet anyone who can walk on water. Membership enrollment materials can be found here.