Thursday, April 17, 2008

Where's All the Gun Control?

The Big Day for new gun control in Illinois came and went, and the local morning news in Springfield reports only one gun bill being called--and failing--on The Big Day.

What does that mean for Illinois gun owners? It means you'd better call your legislators again today! The legislature is still in session, and you know what that means--nobody is safe while the Illinois legislature is meeting. Don't forget to call even if your legislator is on our side, as mine are most of the time--the ones who do the right thing need to be thanked and encouraged to continue. The press and the Chicago Machine are working overtime to make downstate legislators feel like they're isolated and out of touch, but that kind of pressure isn't really possible anymore unless people sit back and let them do it.

The bill that was called yesterday was more or less a throwaway, in my opinion. Surely nobody was so dumb as to think there was any point in it. It would have required that private parties call in to conduct background checks in order to sell guns privately. In some of our neighboring states, you could have a discussion about why that won't make much difference to criminals who already don't obey the law (Is Mookie going to call the NICS hotline to make sure Killah Boy doesn't have a record before he passes him the Lorcin his cousin stole last month?)

In Illinois, it's simpler than that. The law already requires that if I, for instance, sell a gun, I must record the other party's Firearm Owner's Identification info and keep it on hand for ten years. The buyer, incidentally, has to do the same with my information. Obviously no one could comply if the other party didn't have a FOID card, and it takes money, effort, weeks of waiting and a background check to get one in the first place. In effect, I'm doing a background check on him myself, because I'm checking to see whether he's a card-carrying good guy certified by the Illinois State Police as a law-abiding citizen of adult age with no history of treatment for serious mental illness.

Of course, the catch is that criminals don't go through this ridiculous FOID dance when they exchange guns because they are criminals and criminals break laws. So we'll make another law with exactly the same chance of being followed, requiring them to do two background checks instead of one. How could that fail?

Only it did fail, because it's a stupid idea, and downstate legislators (Republican AND Democrat) are deeply mistrustful of the Chicago cadre who tell them otherwise.