The paper is estimating that there were only about 1000-1500 in attendance; I would personally estimate 3000-5000 . . . . 3500-4500 if someone wanted more precision. I thought the numbers were close to last year's turnout, which I estimated at around 4000-4500. I am absolutely no kind of expert on this stuff, though, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt (just a little one, though; I mean, it's not as if I'm not awfully smart or anything.) Also in attendance at IGOLD were a couple of less-desirable elements. One was an older gentleman who was passing out some kind of, as one organizer put it, "Jim Crow literature." He was tossed out of the convention center without putting up much of a protest; must have known he had limited time to do such a thing. Hey, this is not Wisconsin, and we don't owe you a place to peddle your crazy.
Insiders at the capitol are telling each other that the current right-to-carry bill, HB0148/SB82, is nearly inevitable. Of course, this is Illinois politics, where things can get weird and the insiders are sometimes as surprised as everyone else, so I'll believe it when I see it. Still, the logic of the situation does have a certain persuasive force. Senate President Cullerton really does have a lot of pressure coming from downstate Democrats, and he's starting to see more from suburban and even some Chicago districts, too. On the other hand, he has to know that the anti-gun contingent of Chicago legislators may not go completely quietly. Very likely, President Cullerton is wondering whether he can wait for Speaker Madigan's House to pass HB0148 and send it to the Senate, at which point he would have more cover to look for a solution. The big flaw in that plan (well, from my point of view, maybe not from his) is that Speaker Madigan might be waiting for Cullerton to make the first move, for similar reasons. I have this terrible vision of the two of them sitting across a table, each waiting for the other to make the first move, like two old men at the coffee shop sitting with the check between them, each trying his best to outlast the other . . . . casually.
However, listening to rank-and-file legislators talk to each other yesterday was a revelation. The buzz in the capitol hallways was entirely about right-to-carry, which I've never seen at IGOLD before. I don't mean legislators talking to IGOLD participants--that always sounds like someone trying to sell you your own ideas--but the little bits and bites of conversation you pick up between two staffers in an elevator, or a couple of lobbyists on the steps. These people are all talking amongst themselves about right-to-carry and the mood is infectiously optimistic.