Mission statement:

Armed and Safe is a gun rights advocacy blog, with the mission of debunking the "logic" of the enemies of the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

I can be reached at 45superman@gmail.com.You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/45superman.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

An Omen of Things to Come?

Were real life only more like the universe in the Terminator films, the anti-rights leadership in Illinois would have cause for a grand celebration. In the movies, all the machines had to do was get rid of John Connor, and the human resistance was guaranteed to collapse. Well, the patriots in Illinois have a John of our own. John Birch has been a respected member of the gun owning community in this state for many years, and the time has finally come for him to leave. The only difference between Illinois gun owners and the humans from the Terminator movies is that after John Birch moves on, our movement isn’t going to collapse.

John Birch, a resident of the Chicago suburb Oak Brook, has been a vocal advocate for restoring Second Amendment rights to the citizens of Illinois. Although his methods have been criticized, and many have recoiled from his abrasive rhetoric, I am proud to count him as a compatriot. A veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division and a federal firearms licensee, John was an oasis of reason and rational arguments in a region of the state notorious for anti-gun political showmanship and a spawning ground for draconian gun control legislation. Unfortunately, factually based advocacy is not yet a match for the media hysteria, indoctrination, and blatant lies the other side so adeptly spews forth. This was explicitly clear after the 2006 elections, in which Rod Blagojevich’s expenditure of nearly 20 million dollars on negative campaign ads earned him a second term. For another four years (or until he is indicted by federal authorities), Illinois once again must bear the disgrace of having not only the most corrupt and incompetent governor in the Union, but also the most ravenously anti-Second Amendment. John, as have undoubtedly thousands of other honest Illinois residents, simply had enough, and he intends to move to Florida.

As a law-abiding gun owner, it’s a smart move. Florida is one of the 48 states in which there is a statutory provision for citizens to carry a concealed firearm. John also won’t have to register with the state police down there and purchase an ID from the government in order to exercise his right to own, carry, or use a firearm. He won’t be subjected to a deluge of legislative attacks year after year under the guise of “making communities safer” and “keeping guns off the streets”. However, unlike in Illinois, if a journalist in Florida alleged that John could purchase a military assault weapon – he would actually be correct. Although there are three significant federal laws that must be observed (the 1934 NFA, the 1968 GCA, and the 1986 FOPA), it will be perfectly legal for John to own a fully automatic weapon (i.e. a machine gun!) once he establishes residency in Florida. In spite of all this, of course, Florida is still a safer place to live than Chicago. Given that the latter has among the strictest gun control laws in the nation, it’s understandable that civil-disarmament advocates such as Thomas Mannard, the President of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, are continually reluctant to offer an explanation for this disparity. What Mannard does contribute to the debate is a dose of arrogant gloating:

“With Mr. Birch, I think he was realizing he didn't want to go through another four years of futility.”

Having been involved in the battle to restore our rights, I can empathize. It is the epitome of frustration to see elected officials ignore feedback from their constituents and mountains of evidence, issue wildly misleading public statements, and shamelessly exploit tragedy to promote their disarmament agendas – using the same tired clich├ęs of saving the children and getting tough on crime. And there is no doubt about it, John was in the trenches. He has earned the right to be discouraged. If he wants to pass on the torch and exercise his rights freely elsewhere, I wish him well.

The Gun Guys, naturally, made no attempt to conceal their unbridled glee and even speculated as to the ramifications of John’s departure:

Concealed Carry is shuttering its doors not because they were beaten by a group fighting gun violence, but because they were beaten by the people of Illinois. The majority of citizens in Illinois are against concealed carry, just as the majority of Americans at large are against it. You were fighting the will of the public, and the will of the public won.

Concealed carry is dead in Illinois. And it’s wearing out its welcome everywhere else the NRA has pushed it through, past an unwilling populace.”

A more accurate assessment would be that a majority of citizens don’t care about concealed carry, and their apathy allows the likes of Mayor Daley, Rod Blagojevich, and their allies in the legislature to perpetuate the myth that empowering people to take responsibility for their own safety is somehow an extreme position. As I pointed out before, it is the norm in 48 states. The elitist view held by a powerful (albeit not omnipotent) bloc of politicians in Illinois that “regular” citizens are too stupid and irresponsible to be entrusted with carrying a handgun is outside the mainstream.

What might be even more alarming to Mannard and the Gun Guys is that there are tens of thousands of honest gun owners in Illinois who are already picking up where John left off. Rather than dashing around like a headless chicken in its death throes, our movement is more organized and motivated than ever before. We have stalwart allies of our own in the General Assembly, as well as some new friends. People are becoming increasingly aware that having their rights legislated away is not the solution to criminal behavior. These people are righteously outraged and are becoming involved with our movement.

Concealed carry may not be a reality yet, but the cause is still very much alive. When it does finally happen in Illinois, knowing that we prevailed in spite of the obstacles will make the inevitable triumph all the more significant.