All the major control organizations gun are gathering tomorrow (Tuesday) in Illinois. They’ll meet-up with gun violence victims and local gun control advocates like Father “Snuffy” Pfleger—who earned his nickname by calling for the “snuffing out” of the owner of a Chicago-area gun shop. They’ll head over to the office of Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez. The subsequent press conference will have one collective goal: to prevent Land of Lincoln legislators from enacting a law that would give citizens the right to carry a concealed firearm. To stop law-abiding Americans from exercising their Constitutional right to armed self-defense. It’s a last-ditch “calling all cars” effort in a post-McDonald decision world . . .
No doubt Attorney Alvarez will argue that Illinois residents are “suffering enough” with current restrictions. She and her cohorts will cite stories of personal tragedy, and quote entirely misleading statistics. The gun control posse will say that they only want to protect Illinois citizens from the “ravages” of gun violence.
Although Alvarez won’t use the words, the basic message will be the same as it ever was: if the government allows citizens to carry a concealed weapon in their own defense, the streets run red with the blood of innocents. The fact that concealed carry hasn’t created “a Wild West atmosphere” in any of the 49 American states where the practice is a part of everyday life won’t cross their minds—or their lips.
This show of force is largely down to the sinking fortunes of Illinois’ gun control farm team: the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. Formerly a force to be reckoned with (if only in terms of media recognition), the Supreme Court’s McDonald decision and the departure of Mayor Daley has knocked the wind out of their sails. ICHV has suddenly found itself out of touch; a growing pro-gun movement of conservative Illinois residents has flexed its political muscles, giving fresh momentum to right-to-carry legislation.
The groundswell seems clear enough. This is the year that the fifth annual Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day on March 10th in Springfield drew thousands of Illinois gun owners. Average citizens who took a day off work to meet their elected officials in Springfield and galvanize support and votes for right-to-carry. This is the year there are enough votes to pass right-to-carry in the Illinois Senate, and maybe, just maybe, to see it through the House of Representatives.
As a sign of the changing times, the ICHV’s funding stream has dried up. Last year, their dwindling budget forced the organization to close its office in the state’s capital and ditch their full-time lobbyist. Long-time executive director Thom Mennard could see which way the wind was blowing; he left the organization earlier in the year.
Now that ICHV’s been neutered, now that right to carry is on the horizon, national gun control advocates have swung into action. The day after the rally, someone paid local lobbyists the Government Navigation Group (GNG) to work against right-to-carry’s passage. Gun control groups big guns—VPC head Josh Sugarmann, Brady President Paul Hemke—quickly decided to journey to Illinois to add their voices to the last-ditch effort to thwart the will of Illinois’ residents and protect the last bastion of Draconian gun control.
The Violence Policy Center, The Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns—the entire gun control movement know that this could well be do-or-die for their cause. Alvarez’s press conference reveals their desperate rush into the breach, hoping to keep concealed carry from passing one more time. At least until the next time . . .
And so it comes to this: the watershed moment when gun rights groups can finally roll back the tide of gun control legislation that traces its roots to the dawn of slavery. Or the moment when gun control advocates halt the conservative effort to reclaim their constitutional birthright, and bog down the gun rights movement in a morass of “reasonable restrictions.”
Whichever way it goes, neither side will give up. But only one is right. Will the press kow-tow to Ms. Alvarez as usual? Or will they see this agitprop for what it is: gun control last hurrah? TTAG will keep you posted.
Meanwhile, if you live in Illinois, please call your Representative to suport right-to-carry. If you live out-of-state and want to express your support, please call the Governor’s Office (217-782-0244), Sen. President Cullerton’s Office (217) 782-2728) and House Speaker Madigan’s Office ((217) 782-5350) and let them know that the right-to-carry is every American right to keep and bear arms.
[John Boch is President of Guns Save Life, a regional civil rights organization based in Champaign County, Illinois. He can be reached at [email protected].]