Yesterday, my son and I loaded up the car and headed north to attend a county board committee meeting at Memorial Hall in Rockford, IL. The Winnebago County Board is considering whether to pass an ordinance allowing their Sheriff to issue concealed carry permits in the county, and last night their sub-committee on concealed carry held a public comment forum. I think we won the long-distance award, and after stopping to sleep in the car halfway, we didn't get home until 4:00 a.m., but it was well worth it to be there.
For one thing, we took lots of video of the citizens who chose to take their allotted 3 minutes apiece and speak out on the issue, and that's going to be important, because although the local TV, radio and print news representatives were there, some of them either missed the point or decided to hide what happened. Watch this video of the story that ran on WIFR News in Rockford, and two main themes stand out:
1. Pro- and anti-gun speakers argued back and forth in a fairly even debate over this contentious and controversial issue, with the two sides evenly divided, and
2. Sheriff Meyers of Winnebago County is opposed to CCW for Winnebago County because he agrees with state law and a county CCW ordinance would clearly be illegal.
Well, the figure I was given was that an even 40 people signed up and spoke before the subcommittee. Of those 40, a whopping TWO people spoke against the CCW proposal. 37 spoke in favor, and one unfortunate woman dressed in camouflage with pink peace signs painted on her cheeks rambled disjointedly about atrocities committed against her by the mental-health authorities. She was officially listed as "pro-CCW," but I got the impression that she speaks at board meetings often and CCW was perhaps not her main concern. In any case, for WIFR to try to pretend that there was some kind of debate is dishonest. That hall was packed with well over 100 citizens in favor of CCW, and the reporters who were there knew it.
But what about the Sheriff? Well, I happen to have videotaped the Sheriff, so I have video of him taking several minutes to assure everyone that he's NOT against concealed carry. "If you'd asked me 20 years ago, I would have been against it," he told the crowd, "but times have changed . . . . . obviously the citizens want this done. . . . I am not an obstacle to concealed carry . . . . when the law passes, I'll do what our lawyers say I can do. . . . I'm not a lawyer, but if our lawyers say we can issue permits, then we will."
Cue resounding applause.
Compare that to the WIFR story . . . did they tell the truth?
Well, whatever. The bottom line is that the board asked to hear from citizens, and citizens showed up to have a great meeting. Everyone was polite and civil, everyone got their fair say, and it's clear that this ordinance is about to pass. At this moment, it looks like we have 19 board members solidly on board for CCW, with a few more wavering. That's 19 out of 26, so this thing is going through. Then we'll see what the Sheriff and the state decide to do and take it from there, but this much is clear:
People in Illinois are absolutely fed up with Illinois gun laws and the lid is coming off. The state government will either make a change or be left behind.