As discussed Thursday, an East St. Louis convenience store clerk shot and killed one of a group of predatory thugs trying to rob the place. At the time, I expressed some concern that (this being Illinois) the clerk could find himself in legal jeopardy, simply for defending his life with a firearm.
This is, after all, East St. Louis, IL we're talking about, where the mayor tells us that the Second Amendment means nothing outside one's home.
Parks gave a reminder that Illinois does not allow concealed carrying of guns.East St. Louis is located in St. Clair County, the board of which is fighting a years-long, expensive legal battle to close down a gun range, despite the range having never caused a problem.
"You have the right to bear arms, but you have the right to bear them within your home, not on the streets, not in your cars, not inside stores," Parks said.
It was therefore a pleasant surprise to me that the State's Attorney for St. Clair County apparently recognizes legitimate self-defense when he sees it.
St. Clair County State's Attorney Robert Haida, whose office filed the charge, said in a prepared statement: "I commend the shop clerk for what is clearly a legal act of self-defense." He added, "This type of defensive action is allowed by law-abiding citizens when violent, unlawful acts are perpetrated against them."Granted, I suspect Haida's reaction may have been somewhat different if the act of self-defense had happened on the street, with a firearm carried in contravention of Illinois law against self-defense in public, but he's doing the right thing here.
Incidentally, one of the surviving robbers is being charged with murder for the death of his accomplice. That's because in Illinois (along with several other states--I don't know how many), if someone--even one of the perpetrators--dies as the result of a felony, his/her accomplice(s) can be charged with murder.
I have mixed feelings about that. I certainly want the book thrown at perpetrators of crimes like armed robbery, but I'm not particularly comfortable with the idea of a murder charge, when there doesn't seem to be a murder victim. The deceased in this case made the choice to commit armed robbery, and ended up paying with his life for that bad decision. If he's a "victim" of anything, it's of his own bad decisions.
Still, the murder charge against one of the surviving thugs offends me far less than the fact that legal self-defense with a firearm in Illinois is restricted to such a narrow set of circumstances (in one's home or business, basically).