How Illinois Should Set Up a Concealed-Carry Law

As the nation debates gun control, here are three ideas on how citizens could carry a firearm out of sight here in Illinois.

An X-ray of a handgun in a purse

Photograph: Calysta Images/Tetra Images/Corbis

So it looks like Illinois now has to join the other 49 states and pass a law allowing ordinary citizens to carry concealed firearms. (Thanks a lot, Judge Posner.)

As the rest of the states’ concealed-carry laws demonstrate, there are lots of ways to do it. I’ve looked at them all. If legislators want to try to keep gun restrictions in Illinois as tight as possible, while still complying with Posner’s December order to undo the state’s ban on carrying concealed guns in public, here are a few suggestions.

Vet permit applicants like crazy.
Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the National Rifle Association, has famously said: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

But how do you determine who the good guys are? You can start by asking the cops, which New York and California do before granting any concealed-carry permits. In California, local police must confirm that applicants are not only felony-free but also of “good moral character.” New York requires applicants to provide character witnesses and a mental health history—and to have a “special need for self-protection.” These states are good models, says Jonathan Lowy, the lead lawyer with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence: “They allow law enforcement to have a say in whether carrying would increase the danger to the public. Any system that forces law enforcement to issue to people they know are dangerous is a bad system.”

Sometimes, of course, good guys turn bad (Drew Peterson, anyone?). Good concealed-carry laws try to weed out those people too. For example, California, Texas, and Tennessee prevent anyone who is behind on child support payments from getting a permit. And to prevent chronic alcoholics from carrying, Florida won’t issue a permit to anyone who has been to court-ordered treatment within three years (or to anyone who has received two DWIs). Virginia and Louisiana extend that period to five years; Tennessee to ten.

Make them prove their gun skills.
I’m a pretty good guy—no DWIs, no rap sheet, no missed child support payments—but you wouldn’t want me packing heat, at least if my experience shooting (and badly missing) pop cans with a 12-gauge is any indication. I’d certainly need some practice first, and I’ll bet others would too.

Shooting is not unlike driving, points out Philip Cook, a criminologist at Duke University. You don’t need a license to own a car, but you do to drive it on public streets. “There has to be a demonstration of competence,” says Cook. “You have to have . . . regular reviews, and [a license] can be revoked for bad behavior.”

Tennessee and Texas are among the 30 or so states that require training before someone can get a concealed-carry permit. Tennessee requires four hours of classroom instruction and four hours on the firing range. Texas mandates ten to 15 hours of training. At the very least, Illinois should borrow one requirement from these states: If you aren’t 70 percent accurate in live-fire training, you don’t get a permit.

Ban gun toters from as many places as possible.
Returning to the car analogy: The state tightly restricts where you can drive. You can’t go for a spin in Grant Park or through Daley Plaza (even though the Blues Brothers did). And there are lots of private streets where only authorized people can go.

All states restrict the places that permit-holders can legally carry guns, to one degree or another. Utah, for one, is extremely permissive—concealed guns are allowed in public schools. Across the country, a patchwork of restrictions is more typical: 26 states let businesses turn away pistol-packing patrons. Others ban guns in sports arenas, hospitals, and polling places. Perhaps because some gamblers don’t know when fold ‘em, several states have banned them in casinos, like in Indiana.

Illinois should be as restrictive as possible—for example, opposing the local rifle association’s push to allow CTA riders to carry. That could cause some serious road rage.



1 year ago
Posted by news4me

To your points:

Prohibited persons (Felons, criminals and the like) are already restricted. Anyone who is not prohibited should be able to exercise their right to self defense. This should not be arbitrary, or you end up (As in LA County, CA) with a de facto ban due to the opinions of those who manage the licensing procedure.

Banning Concealed carry in as many places as possible is not a logical step despite what you may think emotionally. By doing so you put gun carriers at risk in multiple ways.

1. The most dangerous part of concealed carry is the holstering and unholstering of the weapon. Forcing someone to disarm themselves to enter a building causes this to happen in an automobile, where there is less control over the body positioning.
2. The gun must be left in the car where it is vulnerable to criminal appropriation.
3. The already proven law abiding citizen now is unable to protect themselves from the threat that caused them to go through the permitting process in the first place. Should you disarm them for specious reasons, and not provide for their security, you will be held liable for disarming them (usually after a multi million dollar lawsuit).

Florida has proven that only .007 of those who go through the trouble to be permitted (2.4 million permits)have actually committed a crime with their gun, most of which were the crime of entering into a prohibited building while armed and not actually using the gun. With that irrefutable data in place, why would you go to such lengths to endanger the law abiding permit holders by unnecessarily restricting their ability to concealed carry?

1 year ago
Posted by metengineer

You have given opinions of how you would create the law without giving any facts as to why you hold them. Why are the states with more restrictive rules safer? Are they safer? At what rate do licensed conceal carry holders in other states illegally use their firearms?

Your article makes the legal gun owner out to be the enemy. The public must be kept safe from them. In my research I have not seen the legal gun owner to be the problem. Have you ever gone through the process of obtaining a conceal carry license? If so have you ever carried a concealed weapon in public? I don't imagine that you have. It is not as simple as sticking a gun down your pants and heading out the door. All responsible CCW holders have lots of money and time tied up in their guns, ammunition, holster and training. All CCW holders that I know practice quite a bit with their firearms. Because of this they understand the damage that one can do. You will have the irresponsible nut-jobs out there but I have surprise for you.... they are carrying anyway.

If a person has the intent to go into a bar, school, or park with a gun and harm other people a sign or a law banning them from doing so will not stop them. By making "gun free" zones the only guns you are keeping out are the guns carried by those who would stop such a threat.

Maybe before making up your mind, do some research. Even better ask a cop how they feel about allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons. I think you will be surprised that the vast majority support more lenient conceal carry legislation.

1 year ago
Posted by Freedom

49 States allow Conceal Carry, many allow Open Carry and yet Chicago insists that it is not a Constitutional Right and must be oppressed as much as possible. While criminals roam freely on the streets of Chicago and Robb and Murder at will, because nobody who is a Law-Abidding Citizen can carry any kind of weapon for self defense. Why is it so acceptable to be victimized in Chicago, are the people there, weak and feeble minded or just cowards?

1 year ago
Posted by Trip

Great idea, let's create more laws to tie up the law abiding citizens while completely ignoring the fact that gun violence isn't typically committed by that group of people. Criminals, gangbangers and nut jobs intent on using a gun for violence don't give a whip about a gun grabber's view about violence or some imaginary solution turned into a law that makes the author of this article feel better about himself.

The author doesn't seem to grasp the difference between a Constitutional right to bear arms and privilege such as driving a car.

Hey, but at least the criminals will have to play by the rules once that the big law is on the books!

1 year ago
Posted by labmanpirateguy

The only thing this article does sort of right is look at what other states are doing, but it's obvious the writer and editor are anti-gun to begin with. I sort of like the idea of keeping folks with alcohol and drugs from having any guns....but guess what? Only about one-fifth of the couties in IL currently submit mental health info to the State Police that would keep "nut-jobs" from getting a FOID card. That is the point NRA is trying to make...look at mental health issues and where current laws are not enforced.

I've already written to my IL legislators. Others should write too. Rational ideas (not emotional blackmail) should carry the arguement.

1 year ago
Posted by ON MY WAY

I'm moving to Chicago and you guys carrying guns scare the hell out of me. Yes you should limit places you can carry and you should have to show you not only know how to shoot, but basic handgun safety. What you other posters forget is that for every person who knows the proper firearm technics there will be two or three who shouldn't have a sling shot. Before you smart mouths start bumping your gums, I am a TEXAS concealed licensed carrier who is also a disabled vet. You just wait until people start getting shot because "the good guy" missed or pulled the trigger on accident.

1 year ago
Posted by John S.

Listen Mr. Genius Author...If you want to take my 2nd Amendment right away, how about I take your 1st Amendment right away? You see, you don't get to pick and choose which one you like and which you don't. It's a package deal. Why is it that Libs like yourself want unarmed victims? When you cross state lines into a concealed carry state, do you get frightened? I lived in Chicago for 30 years, in a good neighborhood. Now I live downstate. When I first moved downstate, I couldn't figure out why so many people south of I-80 disliked Chicago. I now know. It's the corruption, lies, cheating, etc. that occur daily in Chicago politics, and your desire to impose your corruption on the rest of the state. You Libs have controlled Chicago and the state for decades, and as a result, have run this state into the ground. Broke beyond belief, Chicago's ridiculously high crime and murder rate are direct results of your ideology. You've been in control and have failed miserably, yet you continue down the same road. The definition of stupidity. As someone has already mentioned, you state no facts to support your ideas and claims. Typical Liberal...don't let the facts get in your way.

1 year ago
Posted by vhcon

You want to restrict were concealed carry permit holders can carry their guns, prohibit them from school, Universities and Library's. So the restriction you look for will declare our school, Universities and Library's a gun free zone's opening the path to more nut jobs mass shooting because the shooters will know where guns are not allowed, so I guess your ok with mass shootings as long as there no good guys with guns to defend themselves. Talked about closed minded and un informed

1 year ago
Posted by Pro Freedom NOW.

How many fist fights have you seen at work? Why do people think if you carry a gun it makes people more violent? It makes people less violent. If you are carrying gun you cannot be part of a arguement that escalates in death. If you carry a gun it is awesome responsibility. However I believe people are good and ccw holders are vetted carefully. The number prove it. The gun grabber have all kindas of phobias of weapons. I date one who would faint if she saw a weapon. Grow up and become adult and look at the facts. More cars more car crashes. More candles more fires. Wrong. Our driver and candle burners are carefully vetted and trained. It not the legal ones you have to fear. it the illegal gun carriers.

1 year ago
Posted by AJ-distrct-8

"Vet permit applicants like crazy". Good moral character? How do you define good morals? How would Stalin, Hilter or Binladin? Was it good moral character for our city to sell a 99 year lease for street parking to a private entity and consume all the proceeds in two years? Is it good moral character that our police department has less than 50 undercover drug detectives compared to New York's 1,100? The Chicago Police Dept is half the size it was twenty years who. It's no wonder they can't stop crime or protect anyone. It's CRAZY to think our politicians can define good morals. We're in Chicago, a city known for its long continuing history of crime by government.
To your point about Drew Peterson: thank you! A long standing govenment employee allowed to carry a weapon. If his three victims (presumed) were carrying or at least were trained in self defense, maybe they could have survived his presumed intent to kill. Remember, government employee, civil servant, not a private sector employee like the rest of us. Crazy?
Criminals are already prohibited from carrying, or owning or possessing. They can't even legally buy bullets. And yet Cook County is the deadliest place in our country. The police and government programs aren't protecting us civilians. We need to protect ourselves. And where we ban guns, that's where the coward-criminals show up. Schools? I don't like the idea of guns in schools. Some teachers do. Crazy? Well vetted carriers of guns don't leave them laying around, and certainly they never brandish. Teachers carrying lawfully means the children and their parents will never see or know who is carrying, which is the purpose of "conceal" carry: to truly keep carrying secret until needed.
Finally I agree with your thoughts on proficiency. 70% isn't good enough. That's crazy! One stray shot is one too many. So, if you're a bad shot, don't even come to the range. Keep your hands off guns. Don't buy bullets or keep a gun at home. But if you're a bad shot because you haven't tried to build your skills, stand next to me while we both focus on the bullseye and muscle memory. Practice and training are important. Regular time using your firearm is very important. Casual use and no training is crazy.
And don't lump me in with criminals and killers. I've not broken any laws.
And stop talking about carrying loaded guns; unloaded guns are just paperweights, and anyone carrying a gun needs to have a round already chambered. Once trained, you'll understand why.
And when our politicians stop needing body guards, I'll not carry either.
Until then, if you don't want to defend yourselves, stay home with your baseball bats at the side of your recliners and never unlock your doors or windows. Or accept that humanity (being human) is often an aggressive and dangerous thing.

1 year ago
Posted by jklugmann

I like they way they keep referring to the "other 49 states". Here are the REAL facts. New Jersey is effectively NO ISSUE - only armed security gets the NJ Permit to Carry A Handgun, and on the back it is stamped "valid while employed only" or some such restriction. Maryland and Hawaii are the same as NJ. NY City you can get one if you are a diamond merchant or a celebrity like Howard Stern. Upstate NY is county by county at the whim of the sitting Judge, and CA is the same at the whim of the county sheriff with some counties being shall issue, may issue and others NO issue. MA, RI, CT & DE are technically may issue but act like shall issue if you meet the strict requirements. Every other state is shall issue with 3 being no permit needed. So you see the "49 states" are actually 46 considering 3 are effectively NO issue. Here is the TRUTH:

1 year ago
Posted by James Brown

Whet Moser, you're an ass.

Illinois is getting concealed carry despite your whining. And it's going to be real concealed carry: "shall issue," with none of the Jom Crow-style crap you propose, that would continue to deny people their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights by using a blizzard of nonsense and bullshit.

1 year ago
Posted by Jim Day

Enough with your restrictions. Carry on CTA. Carry at bars. Carry everywhere. Stop it already.

1 year ago
Posted by tango

So besides the obvious bias one can see in the first paragraph of this article ("has to join the other 49 states" ...Thanks a lot, Judge Posner" and the fact that it seems the only people that were actually interviewed were known to be anti-gun folks (gee - from the Brady center? Who'd a thunk it?), and despite the suggestion that law abiding citizens carrying firearms in public will lead to "road rage shootouts" (a prediction first offered by anti-gunners in 1987 when FL passed the first "shall-issue" CCW, echoed whenever a state has passed a similar law and as yet completely without fruition anywhere) I'll offer a brief reply to your insightful if unenlightened analysis.

"Vet permit applicants like crazy."
What's your thought on vetting other people who wish to exercise a right, like voting? If we actually verified that the person casting a ballot under the name John Doe was John Doe then we might not be in the situation where our legislators use their authority to deny law abiding citizens our rights and then pay the penalty for those transgressions out of the public pocketbook all the whole mocking the courts.

"Make them prove their gun skills"
Let's take the example above. How many registered voters would insist that we live in a democracy, and would respond to an inquiry about the term representative republic with a blank stare?

Why not make people who wish to vote prove their knowledge of our system of government in order to exercise their ability to determine the course of that government?

"Ban gun toters from as many places as possible".

Shall we start with the (one would think obvious) fact that gun crimes have been increasing in the city that boasts it has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, in the only state with absolutely zero ability for non-criminals to carry firearms in public as proof of the idiocy of this proposal?

Let's look at the fact from the criminology standpoint and examine how many of the gang bangers, street thugs and gang members committing 99.99% of the gun crimes currently are compliant with the multitude of gun laws already on the books.

What about the horrific examples of the shootings that have occurred in places where gun possession by non-criminals was banned? The people committing those crimes may be "crazy" enough to be willing to obliterate the social and legal constraints against the killing of one's fellow men and women, but that doesn't mean that they are stupid. Why are there no reports of mass shootings in places where one might expect to find the occupants armed and ready to resist such an affront?

On the day that Deb Mell pled her case about her fear of guns on public transit, the Sun Times had a front page headline reading "HIDE YOUR IPHONES" that talked about the increase in crime on her beloved public transit.

Crooks may not be smart but they're not stupid. Ban one's ability to defend one's self in a specific area and where will the wolves find their sheep?

Proposals like this truly show that the belief in "gun control" as a preventative measure against crime, especially in the face of statistics and reproducible evidence that shows its failure to do so should qualify it as a religion, since it requires a degree of faith on par with Christianity, Judaism or Islam.

1 year ago
Posted by .45StayAlive

Well, you make it clear right from your (pun-alert) opening shot at Judge Posner where your opinions lie. But I'm curious, are you merely ignorant, or is it your intention to mislead people with your article?

You claim that it would be a good idea for the police to be able to step in and stop citizens from getting a CCW permit even when they have no criminal record, and you point to California and New York as good examples of why this should be so. Are you simply not aware that in these places, and in particular, in the urban areas of these States no one is able to get a CCW permit, save for some celebrities and the politically powerful? If you're not ignorant of these facts, why are they missing from your article?

Your suggestion to make people "prove their gun skills" is in the legislation being debated. It appears the new Illinois CCW law is going to require double or more the amount of training required by other States (16 hours with 3 hours of live fire practice and the required passing of a skills test). I don't disagree with you about that idea.

Your last idea to "Ban gun toters from as many places as possible" shows you are ignorant and incapable of thinking logically, at least on that point. Reasonable people adjust their opinions based on the evidence at hand. This is something you don't do. History has shown that so-called "Gun Free Zones" are in reality "Victim Disarmament Zones". Why should honest, law-abiding citizens be legally stripped of their God-given (or if you prefer, Nature-given) Right to Self Defense anyplace? I find it absolutely incredible that citizens will be prevented from being able to defend themselves on Public Transportation. I have NEVER ridden the Red Line for example, without some incident of harassment or trouble occurring to some person or persons in the car I'm in (granted, I've only taken the Red Line maybe 10 times, but 10 out of 10?!?!). For gosh sakes, even New York City allows CCW Permit Holders to carry concealed on their jungle-like Subways. Banning self defense from Public Transportation amounts to declaring open-season on potential victims. On the other hand, if the right thing happens, and somehow, they change the wording of the legislation to allow CCW on Public Transportation, we will see a HUGE drop in crime on the CTA and other forms of Public Transportation. The criminals won't know who is and who isn't carrying. And they'll adjust accordingly. Who knows, some of them might actually go get real jobs.

1 year ago
Posted by BillB5497

Typical statements made from fear rather than logic....ban carry on public transportation because only folks that drive to Chicago deserve to defend themselves. stupid does that sound? Are you trying to drive up parking meter revenue??? All gun free zones do is promote additional gun handling which is not a great idea. The best place for concealed firearms is in the holster, not locked in a car trunk. But instead, bleeding hearts want to require you to carry a map that shows you where you can walk if you are carrying a firearm. That way you know which restaurants are legal, where you might run into a park....and what exactly constitutes a street fair.

I do not like what I read here....I will not renew my subscription

1 year ago
Posted by kodiakinchicago

dear on myway,
welcome to the murder capital of the country and make sure yuo leave your protection in Texas,or plan on visiting our lovely Crook County Jail @26th abd california, but why does the mayor,lisa madigan and governor quinn all have armed security as every other "celebrity and politician" at tax payers expense because I know for a fact if I have more than 1 cop around me he/she is writing me a ticket to raise funds to pay for their security.

1 year ago
Posted by captaindoc

Let's See here, 49 states are wrong & one is right!

Cant's stop drugs or illegal gun trade!

Will never stop drugs, guns or people sneaking over our boarders!

Average 911 call response in this country is 21 minutes!

Jails over crowded and are releasing hardened criminals every minute!

States largest city has the highest murder rate!

Less and less Americans are finding jobs that can afford to pay a living wage!

Possible terrorist cells can exist anywhere!

Yet good hard working citizens should be denied the right to protect themselves against those that want to do them harm!

Just one question comes to mind, aren't the brave men and women of law enforcement just good old honest Citizens with training?

1 year ago
Posted by ImanAzol

Wow, advice on how to carry and use a gun from someone who doesn't. I'll get right on that.

1 year ago
Posted by rimiha

The Colorado shooter picked that particular theater because out of all the movie theaters within 20 minutes of his apartment showing the new Batman movie that night, it was the only one where guns were banned. Basically, a gun ban on a public place is putting up a sign "this is a free fire zone, no one will shoot back". So, yeah, let's get right on that because it worked so well the last time.

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