Possibility of more guns prompts concerns
Sgt. Andy Peters of the La Grange Police Department practices on the department’s range, where firearams training is conducted for area police departments. | Photo courtesy of the La Grange Police Department
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:11AM
It’s hard to tell how a spike in gun sales reported across the country would affect the Western Springs area, but law enforcement authorities have some concerns.
Various gun shop owners reported increased demand following the Newtown mass shooting Dec. 14 and resulting gun control discussions, including a ban on military assault weapons and ammunition under review by Illinois lawmakers.
A ruling striking down Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed weapons Dec. 11 also could prompt additional interest in firearms purchases as legislators work to craft a new law by June.
Deputy Police Chief Brian Budds said Western Springs police have no way of knowing how many guns are owned by residents.
Illinois State Police are responsible for issuing Firearms Owner Identification cards, following a background check through a federal database. But not everyone issued a FOID owns a gun.
Budds said he and area police administrators share concerns about changes in state law permitting concealed carry.
“Our primary concerns center around officer safety issues, as well as the safety of the resident in our communities,” he said. “As law enforcement leaders, its important that we have a seat at the table to address our concerns before a concealed carry law is enacted by our legislature.”
Among the top issues is training tied to gun ownership.
“Everyone who purchases a weapon should have a class of some sort,” said La Grange Police Chief Michael Holub said. “Just like purchasing a motorcycle, no training is required, but I would always encourage it.”
Chief Daniel McCollum of LaGrange Park suggested Illinois adopt a training curriculum similar to the one required in Utah to obtain permission for carrying a concealed weapon.
“As handgun ownership becomes easier, it goes hand in hand with responsibility,” Holub said. “I’m more concerned with reckless gun usage and that’s why I bring up the training idea.”
In addition to training, Illinois lawmakers will have a number of other considerations in passing concealed carry legislation, McCollum said.
“I anticipate a series of restrictions, like prohibiting firearms in establishments serving alcohol, financial institution and maybe some workplaces,” he said.
Gun owners also need to be aware of current laws and their actions’ implications.
“People don’t realize pointing a firearm at someone can be a civil and a criminal offense. The state and federal courts are loaded with cases where someone has been successfully sued,” McCollum said. “If you point a gun at someone without justification, that’s considered aggravated assault.” ~.