I'm sitting here next to Thirdpower from Days of Our Trailers in the legislative update session at the Illinois State Rifle Association's annual meetings. We're at the "resort" at Rend Lake a little bit south of Mt. Vernon, deep in the real southern Illinois. This is the part of Illinois that looks and sounds like Kentucky, except when you sit in a room full of people from northern and central Illinois.
Last night I rolled in with the whole family in the dark of the night and managed to get everyone to collapse more or less on or near a bed, so that was a win. This morning I got the boys up early and we headed out to the trails. We skipped out on the Personal Protection seminar (I've been to it before) and spent the time walking around the lake instead. We picked flowers for mom, watched deer and rabbits, found tracks and scat of deer, coyotes, turkeys and squirrels, and generally wasted a couple of hours in excellent style.
Now here we are in nearly-beautiful Conference Room A. It's not the most cheerful place, but the mood is light. Why?
- Chicago is on its heels. Their new ordinance is clearly a ploy to undo McDonald, and according to Don Moran of the ISRA, the clauses that criminalize firing ranges and training in the city have created a bottleneck. There may be a hundred thousand Chicagoans who want to own firearms, and there are tens of thousands who do legally own firearms that were registered prior to 1982--but they need training to get the new Chicago Firearms Permit, too, and where can they get it? There aren't enough trainers (because the ordinance defines the qualifications in a way designed to exclude many trainers) and if you could find them, there aren't enough lanes on ranges in the state to get the training done in a reasonable amount of time. That's the bad news. The good news is that judges can figure this stuff out, too, and my impression (Mr. Moran didn't say this, so don't blame him) is that this is just another reason this ordinance is so vulnerable.
- Mayor Daley is on his way out . . . . and who will replace him? Nobody here will hazard much of a guess, and it's not likely to be a gun blogger. But replacing Daley, the man to whom all favors are owed, has to mean Chicago clout flying all directions. No matter what many candidates say publicly, it's hard to believe that they're privately planning to hitch their wagons to the Brady Campaign Against Success and continue Daley's crusade without his power or connections. Even if someone does want to try it, who can really replace Daley? The only name I've heard with the reputation and personality to remind people of either Mayor Daley is Rahm Emanuel, but he's essentially the Jody Weis of City Hall. Weis is the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, yes, but his police force hates him with a passion. He's a fed from the FBI, they say (J-Fed, to be specific) and he's never "been the police." He doesn't understand their department or policing in general, and Chicago cops figure he's there to take the department apart and clamp down on any cop who gets out of line. They don't trust him a bit, and on Emanuel's first day as Mayor, he'd have the same situation at City Hall, except that the people distrusting him and talking about this outsider from Washington are people with real power in Chicago. His job would be survival from day one. Others have a better chance of winning than Emanuel, but none of them look like The New Daley.
- Statewide, Governor Quinn is in trouble. He hasn't lost yet, but he's a little behind and, more importantly, not showing any signs that he's going to get things moving any time soon. Democrats, even Chicago Democrats, are starting to get in touch with ISRA and NRA leaders and ask how they can get right with Illinois gun owners. Votes for concealed carry are piling up in the legislature; we're likely looking at enough votes to pass a bill right now, but not enough to overcome a veto (Governor Quinn has promised to veto any carry bill, while Republican Bill Brady has promised to sign it--I'm just saying.)