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STATEMENT OF COOK COUNTY COMMISSIONER LARRY SUFFREDIN ON CONCEALED CARRY

Sunday, April 01, 2012
Special to suffredin.org

Does Illinois need more guns in public settings to insure the public safety? The answer to this question is no. There are enough guns in the hands of trained law enforcement and security personnel to insure the safety of our citizens in public settings. What Illinois must do is show that its current restrictions are reasonable and do protect the public. Illinois needs to restate its existing law to meet the standards of recent Supreme Court cases. Illinois must not surrender its police powers to those who want unlimited access to firearms.

The debate today is caused by a reading of what Illinois must do under the Seventh Circuit's ruling in Moore, et al v. Lisa Madigan. The decision is still subject to possible Supreme Court Review. It does not require Illinois to do anything specific; but the Seventh Circuit stayed its mandate to allow the General Assembly 180 days "…to craft a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety, and the Second Amendment as interpreted in this opinion, on the carrying of guns in public." The majority opinion clearly outlines how Illinois could more clearly state the reasonableness of its current law and craft changes that would allow for very little change to our current law and would protect the public safety by limiting who and where guns could be allowed.

In addition, the Moore case was decided 2 to I with a strong dissent from Circuit Judge Ann Williams upholding existing Illinois law. Judge Williams stated: "In the absence of clearer indication that the Second Amendment codified a generally recognized right to carry arms in public for self-defense, I would leave this judgment in the hands of the State of Illinois." The Supreme Court is as likely to adopt this standard as that of the majority. Therefore, the General Assembly should stand its ground and defend the existing law and see what the Supreme Court decides.

Unfortunately, there is no political will to wait to see what the Supreme Court will decide. The discussion concerning "concealed carry" that the Illinois General Assembly is conducting demonstrates that expanding concealed carry beyond trained law enforcement and security personnel will only endanger more and not strengthen the overall public safety. A new Kaiser Health Tracking Poll "found one in five Americans knows someone who has been a victim of gun violence in the last three years." The explosion of violence especially in public places will not be contained by giving more people guns. The General Assembly is reviewing bills and amendments that would allow "concealed carry" to those who have significant training, mental health background checks, insurance and an identifiable need for extra protection. Each of these conditions will put an unmanageable financial strain on a state government that is having difficulty providing basic services to its residents.

In addition, the bills and amendments also highlight places where an individual can't have a concealed carry weapon. These places include: places of worship, hospitals, public transit systems, sports stadiums, public museums, government buildings, courts, mental health facilities, entertainment venues and schools at all levels of education. How will the State enforce these limitations? Will the State provide gun check stations at every place of worship, hospital, transit stop, sports stadium, public museum, government building, court, mental health facility, entertainment venue and school? Who will pay for these gun check stations? Illinois has had concealed carry by law enforcement and trained security personnel for years. The debate today should not center on "all individuals" being able to have a concealed weapon but on restating the solid reasons for Illinois continuing to be the only sane state to limit concealed carry.

As a County Commissioner I have no ability to directly shape the concealed carry discussion since it is the General Assembly that must decide. As a County Commissioner I do see the effects of gun violence everyday in our Cook County Hospital System, at our Medical Examiner's Office and in our Court system. Gun violence costs Cook County taxpayers millions of dollars a year. At the County level I have sponsored into law the Blair Holt Assault Weapons Ban and the required reporting of Lost, Stolen or Transferred Firearms to prohibit straw purchases of guns.

An opinion piece by Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.



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