It’s the ongoing “Right to carry” debate in Illinois but some local communities are using the upcoming election to try to get leaders in Springfield to change their mind.
Illinois is the only state that does not allow people to carry a concealed weapon but proponents are trying to make it happen this year. Several counties are holding meetings next week to discuss the right to carry referendum on the November ballot. Rock Island County is just one of the counties.
“Giving legislators an idea what the residents of Rock Island County feel about this issue,” says Frank Whitmore, a volunteer for Illinois Carry organization.
Just across the bridge Iowa has concealed carry and proponents say it’s worked fine for them.
“Iowa has had a shell law passed and in effect for almost two years now. It hasn’t been any safety issues, any shoot outs in the streets,” says Whitmore.
Stephenson, Mercer, Warner, Henry and McDonough Counties will also have a referendum on their ballots.
Proponents like Whitmore say it’s a matter of self-defense, “You never know where crimes are going to strike and in these very few seconds we have the chance to do something to protect your family, police are minutes away.”
But others disagree, like gun owner Mark Quade, “I happen to think that guns should not really be the first line of defense for people.”
Quade says he’s all for passing concealed carry but once passed, he thinks people tend to misuse it.
“There’s a lot of people that once they obtain their permit to carry they think they can trample over other people,” says Quade.
Last year the concealed carry bill was short by only three votes. Some people think it’s only a matter of time before Illinois will join the 49 other states.
“It’s just a matter of time before they’re like ‘hey Illinois law banning any citizen from carrying our personal protection is unconstitutional, violates the second amendment, ‘” says Whitmore.
Rock Island County meeting will take place Tuesday, October 16 at The Moline Club at 7 p.m.
Stephenson County is on Monday, October 15 at the Rock Hollow Conservation Club at 6:30 p.m.
Henry County is on Wednesday, October 17 at Central Theater at 7 p.m
Mercer, Warren, McDonough is Thursday, October 18 at The 1st Street Armory at 7 p.m.