Changing laws, more gun interest prompts concerns for La Grange chiefs
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: March 4, 2013 1:49AM
LA GRANGE — It’s hard to tell how a spike in gun sales reported across the country would affect the La Grange area, but law enforcement authorities have some concerns.
Various gun shop owners reported increased demand following the mass shooting Dec. 14 in Connecticut and resulting gun control discussions, including a ban on military assault weapons and ammunition.
A ruling striking down Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed weapons Dec. 11 also could prompt additional interest in firearms purchases as lawmakers work to craft a new law by June.
“We have no way of knowing who owns weapons in the village, since we do not require registration,” said La Grange Police Chief Michael Holub.
“Firearms Owner Identification card information is also not readily accessible to us, although having a FOID card is not an indicator of weapon ownership,” Holub said.
The Illinois State Police issue FOID cards.
Police Chief Daniel McCollum of LaGrange Park said he isn’t sure how useful such identifying information would be to local authorities. Gun ownership or a background check from the federal database to obtain a FOID card doesn’t predict if or how a gun would be used, or its owner’s state of mind, he said.
The chiefs said they hope firearms training is required as part of the legislation for carrying concealed weapons.
“Everyone who purchases a weapon should have a class of some sort,” Holub said. “Just like purchasing a motorcycle, no training is required, but I would always encourage it.”
McCollum suggested Illinois adopt a training curriculum similar to the one required in Utah to obtain permission for carrying a concealed weapon.
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 institutions and maybe some workplaces,” he said.
Gun owners also need to be aware of current laws and the implication of their actions with weapons.
“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.”
Both chiefs also lamented a culture of violence and the resulting difficulties for police to protect the public.
“It’s truly sad in many ways,” McCollum said. “It’s a shame we have this type of environment with more guns, but that does not necessarily mean more peace.”
“How does law enforcement address a subculture that accepts this level of violence as a solution?” he asked. “Sadly I don’t have the answer.”