When you first think of strict gun control laws, you generally think of places like New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington DC and more recently Colorado. But Illinois has had some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation.
Not long ago, it was against the law to transport any firearm off of your own personal property and it didn’t matter if the gun was loaded or unloaded. The only exceptions to the law were police, target shooters and hunters. The way the law was written, grandpa could not legally drive over to his grandson’s house to hand down his favorite shotgun. The law was challenged and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the state, citing an earlier Supreme Court decision two earlier cases.
Illinois was also the last state to ban any conceal carrying of a firearm. This law was also challenged in court and in December 2012, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down their ban on conceal carry permits. It has taken over a year for the state to finally put the system into place to start accepting permits.
Traditionally, most people believe that middle class whites make up the largest group to apply for conceal carry permits, but in Illinois, that may not be the case. Homeowners in some of the poorer black communities of Chicago are already signing up for conceal carry classes that are required to obtain their permits.
One firearms instructor, Gerald Vernon already has a full class of 10 people. Eight of them are black men and the other two are black 2 women. When asked why they want to obtain a conceal carry permit, all ten of them gave the same answer – protection. Vernon, a black man himself commented about the class, saying:
“Over the last 20 years, I’ve been places I don’t think a lot of other black people have been. I’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money traveling the country and getting this training so I could bring it back to the community.”
“Black people have been programmed to think that self-defense, our defense, is someone else’s responsibility—that good, honest, decent black people have nothing to do with guns, because guns are for white folks, police, and black criminals. I find it to be an absurd notion. The vast majority of gun laws in America have been aimed at trying to disarm black people.”
The first conceal carry permits should start arriving in mailboxes around mid-March. If the trend that Vernon and others are seeing, more Chicagoans will soon be carrying concealed weapons to protect themselves. Known now for their high crime rate, many gun advocates are saying that Chicago will see those crime rates go down as more citizens become armed and ready to defend themselves. As Gerald Vernon believes and teaches:
“The only thing that stops bad people with guns is good people with guns.”