The Independent

The Independent

Concealed Protection: Allowing People to Carry Guns

Amaris Rodriguez, Opinions Editor

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My hands were sweating the entire time I was at my first shooting range. My mind raced through different imaginary scenarios where someone in the neighboring gun lanes would go crazy and decided to shoot everyone. Trying to calm my nerves, my boyfriend said everyone else at the range had guns too, so the shooter would be easily stopped if that happened.

This seems to be a common belief among those who are in favor of concealed carry licenses: If citizens were allowed to carry their own guns, they would be able to help out in an emergency.  

As someone who did not grow up around guns, I am a little hesitant to buy into that.

Especially when 90 percent of homicide victims were killed by gunshots in the first six months of 2017, according to the Chicago Tribune.

With gun violence in Chicago surpassing cities like Los Angeles and New York City, gun laws have become an increasingly popular topic.

Currently, Illinois has some of the strongest gun laws in the United States.

Compared to other states, Illinois requires the ownership of a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, along with a waiting period of seventy-two hours to receive the handgun after purchase. A background check is also performed before obtaining a concealed carry license.

While the ability to obtain a FOID card was once a controversial issue, the new question focuses on the ability to conceal and carry a handgun.

According to Gunstocarry.com, an online source for conceal and carry statistics nationwide, there are currently about 16,358,844 concealed carry permits across the U.S. They saw an increase of 256 percent since 2007.

While the thought of people carrying around guns might seem frightening to some, the reality is that Illinois is one of the few states that requires training before issuing a concealed carry license.

Concealed carry licenses in Illinois are issued by the state police to individuals who are over the age of twenty-one and have passed a mandated sixteen-hour training course.

The Trace, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit that reports on America’s gun violence, says other states have voted against training courses. According to an article published by The Trace, Republican lawmakers in Missouri voted in favor of dismissing the required eight-hour course or completion of a live-fire exercise with a range instructor in 2017.

This places Missouri, one of our neighboring states, on the list of 26 states that currently do not require any training before issuing a concealed carry license.

Republican State Senator Brian Munzlinger, who voted in favor of the change, said that the new bill, “will allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from criminals.”

While the chants of protecting the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution have long been heard, the claims that being able to carry guns will be useful to everyday citizens are becoming more popular.

As far-fetched as this argument might seem to some, the truth is it holds some validity.

The number of concealed handgun permits increased from 4.6 million to over 12.8 million in 2017, with murder rates dropping 25 percent, according to The Washington Times.

So do concealed carry licenses allow gun owners to protect themselves? The answer is yes.

A homeowner in Chicago was able to protect himself from an armed robber because he had access to his handgun in October 2017. He also had a concealed carry license.

A year earlier, a Chicago Uber driver, a conceal-carry license holder, shot and wounded a gunman who had opened fire on a crowd in Logan Square, rending the shooter the only person with gun-related injuries.

Despite there being proof that everyday civilians, who happen to have a concealed carry license, can stop crime, the idea of people walking around with concealed guns is nerve-wracking. However, I blame my discomfort on my lack of knowledge about guns.

For people like my boyfriend who have grown up around guns and know the proper way to use one, concealed carry is the next logical step.

In the meantime, while I learn my way around how to properly handle a gun, I do find comfort in the laws that Illinois has in place for those who are looking to obtain a concealed carry permit.

The mandatory background check, the waiting period and the concealed carry class are all positive steps our state is taking to ensure there are regulations in place for those who are looking to obtain a handgun.

These steps are ensuring that concealed carry licenses go to citizens who are responsible and educated enough to know when a gun is needed in a situation.

While concealed carry laws might not completely erase the crime in Chicago, they do offer people the option of protecting themselves, which can be a matter of life or death.

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Concealed Protection: Allowing People to Carry Guns