For those new to the gun culture, the Land of Lincoln was the last state in the union to enact a concealed carry law. It only happened after the federal courts ruled Illinois’ prohibition on carry was unconstitutional. And even then, facing a looming court deadline, the Illinois General Assembly waited until the last hours of the last day of the court’s deadline to override a stubborn governor’s veto to approve a new carry law.
There are still many in the Land o’ Lincoln who despise the fact that mere citizens are allowed to carry a firearm. After all, it’s not like there’s a need to carry for personal defense in Cook County. Not with 526 homicides in Chicago alone, and another 2226 people shot and maimed so far this year.
Despite a multitude of locations where carry is prohibited — both public and private — the woke gun haters are always trying for more. And now they’re pushing their hoplophobic agenda in the Cook County Forest Preserves.
In Illinois, even some of the “park districts” have their own sworn law enforcement officers. Among those, of course, is Cook (rhymes with ‘Crook’) County, home of Murder City USA, more commonly referred to as “Chicago.”
The Cook County Forest Preserves manages a bevy of properties ranging from campgrounds to golf courses to the Brookfield Zoo.
Originally, all of these locations operated under a blanket ban on carry for good guys. Bad guys? They don’t need a license to carry anywhere they want, of course. After an arrest for carrying in one of these places, an enterprising man named Simon Solomon sued, claiming that the blanket ban on all properties was unconstitutional.
Mr. Solomon won, but the judge stayed his order to give the Illinois General Assembly until March 31st, 2022 to remedy the defect. The General Assembly, being the wise, efficient deliberative body it is, failed to act during the Spring Session, the prohibition is null and void.
Nevertheless, the Forest Preserves have left the famous Illinois “no guns” signs up, clearly in an attempt to intimidate card-carrying good guys from lawfully packing heat on these public properties.
On their website, as of today, they claim, without any law to back it up, that there’s a ban on firearms by concealed carry licensees.
What’s more, CCPFD police officers and administrators are telling people who ask that they will arrest anyone with a carry license who straps on a gun while camping, golfing or otherwise enjoying those properties.
The very small department and its handful of officers have to know about the outcome of the Solomon case. Heck, the case and the carry prohibition being struck down was featured in the National Recreation and Parks Association journal.
In my capacity as Executive Director of Guns Save Life, I investigated those claims. After a series of phone calls, I was referred to Marvita Lash, the Cook County Forest Preserves Public Information Officer.
Despite two detailed messages last week and a third call this week, she hasn’t returned my requests for comment. Then again, I mentioned the Solomon case in my messages so she knew I knew they don’t have a legal leg to stand on.
Anyway, this behavior by anti-gun political leaders and police administrators isn’t without precedent. Twenty-odd years ago, then-Mayor Richard Daley and the Cook County State’s Attorney threatened law-abiding gun owners if they transported lawfully uncased firearms in the Windy City. “We will put you in jail,” they said.
Most gun owners, especially those with jobs, families, and reputations to uphold wanted no part of becoming a test case. So the bluff by Daley and his prosecutors intimidated most from carrying.
In nearby DuPage County, police arrested a gentleman by the name of John Horstman. Mr. Horstman had an unloaded, cased handgun with him when police made contact on an unrelated matter. Asked if he had any knives, guns or hand grenades, he admitted to having a FOID card and an unloaded, cased handgun. Which is exactly what Illinois law demands in order to transport a firearm.
They arrested him and took him to jail where he was strip-searched and generally treated like Richard Speck.
Once sprung from jail, he retained counsel. The Dupage County State’s Attorney dropped all charges within a couple of days and Horstman got his GLOCK back. Horstman then filed a federal Section 1983 lawsuit for deprivation of civil rights under the color of authority.
DuPage County couldn’t cut a settlement check quickly enough to make that lawsuit go away. What’s more, Horstman refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Less than three months later he picked up a check for $50,000.
Hopefully Cook County Forest Preserve law enforcement department‘s stated standard operating procedure of making an arrest for lawful carry on their property is just bluffing. However, for $50,000 or more, it might be tempting to challenge them for some adventurous (and courageous) good guy.
Besides, with today’s bodycams, a sympathetic gun owner might be able to add a zero to that total if rogue cops rough him or her up while making a bad arrest over a non-crime.