My Christmas rounds encompassed Morton Grove, Illinois and Kennesaw, Georgia this year, which is a little like a Cold War combatant going from Moscow to Washington, DC in the same week. Advocates of gun owners’ civil rights well remember that Morton Grove was the first municipality to ban private ownership of handguns, “back in the day.” But we also remember that after the landmark US Supreme Court decision in Heller in 2008, Morton Grove was among the first such communities to buckle and rescind the law. Significant Other and I were on Mark Walters’ radio show on 12-27-09 (downloadable from “Armed American Radio” at iTunes, or from Armed American Radio and I said on the air that folks like us speaking from Morton Grove with handguns in our hotel room felt like General Sherman doing a talk show from occupied Atlanta, ‘cause our side WON, dammit!
A couple of days later we stopped for a hot dog at an iconic Georgia restaurant in Kennesaw, a satellite community north of Atlanta and the first municipality to pass a law requiring all law-abiding citizens to own a firearm. It was as symbolic as the Morton Grove law – no one to my knowledge has ever been brought to court for NOT owning a gun when they lived in Kennesaw – but after that law was passed, violent crime against individuals plummeted there, and has stayed down. Another victory for our side? You bet!
Our Christmas rounds had taken us through six states, with my girlfriend legally carrying a concealed, lightweight Colt .45 automatic in five of them. Before we crossed into the sixth, Illinois, we pulled over and I put on an additional holster to carry her .45 as well as mine. You see, gun laws in our fifty states are a fifty-patch crazy quilt of separate laws. She didn’t go flaky in Florida, didn’t go ape in Atlanta, nor coo-coo in Kentucky. She didn’t do anything idiotic in Indiana or terrible in Tennessee…but apparently the Chicago-influenced legislators in Springfield thought she’d become mentally ill in Illinois. And it wasn’t just us visitors: Illinois, like Wisconsin, allows no provision for its own residents to carry concealed guns in public.
(Fortunately, Illinois allowed out of state cops to carry even off duty long before the 2004 enactment of LEOSA, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, which allows us to carry nationwide on our own time. Had there been an exigent circumstance – an extreme, life-threatening emergency – she would have been legal under Illinois law to access one of my .45s while I went for the other, under the legal principle known as the Doctrine of Competing Harms in the common law.) And, frankly, on dark and stormy nights in Chicagoland, I did not feel at ALL inconvenienced carrying two lightweight Colt .45s.
LEOSA has worked out well for half a decade, and the next logical step is to pass legislation that will allow law-abiding armed citizens with concealed carry permits to go discreetly armed nationwide. We came achingly close to that in the past year, missing by only a couple of votes. It needs to come up again – and be passed. But LEOSA took more than a decade to become law, so long that the current law, LEOSA, is still more commonly known by its name when it was only a hopeful bill, HR 218.
From Morton Grove to Kennesaw, we’re winning. We’re on the side of the protective angels. But it takes a long time, and our New Year’s Resolution still needs to include fighting for the rights of all Americans to protect themselves and their loved ones.
From this end, to you – may you have a happy, productive, and safe 2010!