Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=148489
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Illinois gun laws make it safer, study says

by Alison Fox
Nov 19, 2009


Illinois and Wisconsin are the safest states in the nation when it comes to death by a concealed weapon, according to a new study by the Violence Policy Center.

These two are the only states in the country that prohibit the carrying of concealed handguns by private citizens in public. According to the policy center, 85 people, including eight police officers, have been killed nationwide over the last two and half years by people who have legal concealed handgun permits. The Washington, D.C.-based center works to enhance gun control in the U.S.

Policies prohibiting carrying a gun are necessary, according to Thom Mannard, the executive director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. Mannard said while the idea of stopping all gun violence is a fantasy, more needs to be done to prevent it.

“What we need to do is look at how we can make it more difficult for guns to be illegally obtained,” he said.

Not everyone, however, is convinced by the statistics.

“I think they’re playing with data,” said Dave Workman, the senior editor of Gun Week.

A little more than 14,000 people nationally were killed by handgun violence during the two-year period of 2007 and 2008, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.

Workman said the real problem is people who obtain guns illegally, not through legal permits.

“How many people have been shot by bad guys?” he said. “They are trying to make boogiemen out of legally armed private citizens when the real problem is with illegally armed people who disregard the law and probably shouldn’t have guns in the first place.”

Private citizens shouldn’t be punished for the wrongs of others, Workman said.

“What the good citizens of Illinois and Wisconsin would like to see happen is a leveling of  the playing field,” he said, “where they at least have the ability to possess the tools to fight back.”

Mannard disagreed.

“The chances of somebody having a random incident of violence confront them is very, very rare,” he said. “You really don’t hear about people using weapons on the streets to protect themselves from violent incidents."