(Article changed on June 15, 2013 at 16:12)
(Article changed on June 15, 2013 at 15:38)
Armed citizens like George Zimmerman who killed Trayvon Martin in Florida last year have been accused of vigilante justice--taking the law into their own hands. Now four
Illinois state officials
are doing the same thing.
As Illinois waits for Governor Pat Quinn to sign a bill legalizing Conceal and Carry in Illinois (where carrying has been illegal), Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons, Randolph County State's Attorney Jeremy Walker, Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz and Clinton County Sheriff Kreke are jumping the gun, pun intended. They proclaimed this week they not will prosecute carriers for violating Illinois law. Why should they prosecute existing laws just because it's their job?
"I started talking to law enforcement back in May about this," said Walker according to
the Belleville News-Democrat.
"I said then that I would give the state legislature until June 9 (a deadline set by federal courts to repeal the concealed weapons ban) and they ran past their deadline in my mind." Walker even enlarged his rogue disobedience, proclaiming his office would not prosecute arrests of illegal carriers by Illinois State Police. What?
Madison County's top prosecutor, Tom Gibbons, also announced he would not do his job, drawing criticism from colleagues, "who question whether he's wrongly acting like a maker of laws instead of someone whose job is to enforce them," reports the Associated Press.
While it's tempting to ask whether the attorneys would similarly fail to prosecute a breaker of drug laws because of rumors the law would be changed,
there is a much bigger issue: conceal and carriers have been responsible for 494 US
civilian deaths, 23 mass shootings and the death of 14 law enforcement officers since 2007.
Alabama, police officer Philip Davis, Tampa police veteran Corporal Mike Roberts, US Customs and Border Protection Agent Donald Pettit and Springfield, MA, police officer Kevin Ambrose are just some of the officials killed or believed killed by conceal carriers, reports the Violence Policy Institute. Four of the slain officers were killed by white supremacists, who are increasingly leading the armed citizens movement.
Many mass shooters were also legal conceal and carriers according to the Violence Policy Institute including Omar Thornton who killed eight at a beer distributorship in Connecticut in 2010 and Gerardo Regalado who killed four women and wounded three in Florida in 2010. (Three years earlier, the Gainsville Sun reported
that 1,400 people licensed for conceal carry in Florida had pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies, 216 had outstanding warrants, 128 had active domestic violence injunctions and six were registered sex offenders.)
Incredibly, even Jared Lee Loughner who shot Arizona US Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people in 2011 was a legal conceal carrier because Arizona does not require a permit
of any type to carry a concealed handgun outside of the home. Thank you NRA. Thank you gun lobby. Let's enforce existing laws!
It is hard to believe the four Illinois law officials would abdicate their sworn duties to enable a murky law responsible for at least 500 recent deaths. A law that enables people like Omar Thornton, Gerardo Regalado, George Zimmerman
and Jared Lee Loughner and has cost the lives of 14 law enforcement officials.
"If the governor decides to act on the legislation before him, I will revisit this issue," says Randolph County State's Attorney Jeremy Walker imperially. "But for now I ask citizens to be responsible and use common sense in their carrying of concealed weapons."
Got that Thornton, Regalado, Loughner, Zimmerman et al? Be responsible.
Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)