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Illinois and concealed carry: Here come the gun nuts

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In April, when concealed carry hits the streets, Illinois becomes just another garden variety gun-slinging state. We were the last to fall; and it's a dark day.

Big questions arise with this major change in the state: Where is concealed carry prohibited? What should business owners do? And, of course, when is it time to pull the trigger? Of that last, there seem to be more than a few gray areas.

Rocco Wlodarek, owner of Black Flag Firearms Training in Mt. Prospect, told the Chicago Tribune, "It's always going to be a personal decision, your own personal trigger, your own limit . . . But I tell my students the gun should always be a tool of last resort." Noted the Chicago Tribune, "Only individuals know the point at which they feel their life or someone else's is being threatened. And that sometimes creates a gray area where mistakes can be made."

Indeed. It seems a bit dicey, leaving the "personal trigger" decision in the hands of road ragers, or people who have hair-trigger tempers, the mentally ill, those with a vendetta against someone, or guys with a plain old macho complex. After all, recently in Florida, some ex-cop decided that his "personal trigger" was when someone threw popcorn at him in a movie theater. The popcorn-thrower ended up dead; and under Florida's Stand Your Ground law, the shooter could walk. In the not so distant past, George Zimmerman decided his "personal trigger" was when a young black male, Trayvon Martin, didn't immediately surrender to his orders. Chicago Sheriff Tom Dart is concerned that the process of granting concealed carry permits is "fraught with problems and holes" which could allow individuals who don't qualify (those with domestic violence convictions, gang crimes, or illegal gun possession) to get a concealed carry permit anyway. Dart contends that they "lack the staffing to adequately review the thousands of applications they are receiving." Why is that not completely frightening to everybody?

And what was wrong with the castle law, where you could defend yourself, your family, your home - and, depending on the statute, your car - against threats to your safety? What good can possibly come of people in restaurants or churches or on Chicago's lakefront with guns at the ready? Sure, other states have allowed concealed carry for a long time, but most other states don't have the level of gun violence that Chicago already has - and out of the thousands of applications being filed, the majority are in and around Chicago.

Small beefs turn into big beefs, and big beefs can turn lethal in a minute, when guns enter the equation. Guns embolden people. Guns are used for doing harm; they have no other purpose. And the level of glee from Illinoisans which has accompanied the roll-back of Illinois' ban on concealed carry is alarming indeed.

The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence's Executive Director, Colleen Daley, predicts what Harvard studies and medical studies and university studies and the largest gun study ever by the American Journal of Public Health overwhelmingly show: More guns, more gun deaths.

Said Daley, " . . . [S]omething is going to happen that would not have happened otherwise."

An armed society is not a polite society; an armed society is a furtive, jumpy, reckless, feckless and paranoid society. We don't need guns in workplace coffee rooms, in theaters, in museums or art galleries. Guard your home and hearth, fine - but beyond that, all you're guarding is your right to commit potentially lethal acts.

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