Effingham Daily News
When I went to Boy Scout camp as a kid outside of Lewistown, the range was nothing but a source of unending anxiety. Set up next to the archery station, a series of small targets, guns and ammo tempted my fellow scouts with dreams of bullseyes and badges but I couldn't deal with it. I couldn't hit a target, couldn't steady my hand and couldn't shake the unending chant of "you'll shoot your eye out."
I think it's probably clear that I wasn't the ideal scout or shooter but I've never forgotten the fear I felt with a BB gun in the crook of my arm. It certainly isn't my most irrational fear, with someone sneaking onto my second floor apartment balcony taking the cake in that department, but guns fundamentally frighten me. Making matters worse, now they could be on any person at nearly any time.
On Tuesday, a federal appeals court struck down Illinois' long-standing concealed carry ban, giving lawmakers 180 days to come up with a law allowing gun owners to carry firearms on the street. Dave Sigale, an attorney who represented the Second Amendment Foundation in the lawsuit, was quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying, "the right of self-defense doesn't end at your front door."
It always feels strange when this kind of thing passes in Illinois. We live in one of the bluest states in the country, but Illinois has long been paralyzed by the thought of progress. For the state that gave Barrack Obama's political career a start, we've long been stoically against change.
Really, the overturning of the concealed carry ban is an appeal to our basest instincts. We're scared. We're all very scared. With a crumbling economy, a global political landscape passing the United States by and nuclear tensions not seen since the Cold War, we're all seeking some measure of personal control.
But that's the thing. We can't control any of that. We're vastly alone, dealing with our anxieties, our problems and our fears and a loaded gun tucked under your shoulder isn't going to fix that.
In January, Illinois legislators will have a chance to truly make a difference. During the Lame Duck session, notoriously controversial bills see the light of day as some legislators prepare to leave their seats. It's one of the few times in federal politics where change is truly possible and lawmakers are making the most of it.
Gay marriage, medical marijuana, plans to fix the pension system, providing driver's licenses to immigrants and plans to close budget shortfalls are all on the agenda and are all ideas that the state should pursue more doggedly than the fear mongering and stagnation we're used to.
Where the concealed carry ban continues to show the statewide fear which grips citizens, January is giving lawmakers a real opportunity to do something right, to change the state and the culture for the better. Illinois could very well be the 10th state to allow gay marriage, finally giving an often abused demographic the basic human right it deserves. However, there are still groups, not just in Springfield but statewide, who are afraid, afraid of what the right to love could do.
It's time to deal with our fear, not with rhetoric, talking points or a warm gun but with a true and honest voice. Write to legislators, show your support for the change you want to see. There's no reason to let a gun, hidden or not, do the talking in Illinois any more.
Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or firstname.lastname@example.org.