July 10, 2013
"Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made." — John Godfrey Saxe
Illinois became the last state in the country to allow concealed carry yesterday when the legislature handily overrode Gov. Pat Quinn's veto to pass it in a special session called to meet a court-ordered deadline.
Concealed carry is hardly the same thing in the 50 different states, of course. You'll find your ability to do it is very different in, say, Barre, Vt., and Los Angeles. But the Land of Lincoln was the last place that had no provision whatever for civilian carry and now it does, though it will be months before licenses are issued.
The Illinois State Rifle Association has pushed for concealed carry for many years, and both NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation pursued the lawsuits that led eventually to the 7th Circuit decision that forced the state legislature to enact a carry law. Full marks to all of them.
But the political dynamics that actually led to the law are not exactly civics book material.
Quinn got his office when now-imprisoned former governor Rod Blagojevich was impeached in 2009. He barely won reelection in 2010, carrying just four of Illinois' 102 counties. He made his political reputation as a gadfly and never has been a favorite of the state's Democratic establishment, dominated by House Speaker Mike Madigan.
Madigan's daughter Lisa is attorney general, and has long been regarded as a likely primary challenger to Quinn in 2014. She has appealed the 7th Circuit ruling, but has hardly been outspoken about the carry issue.
Quinn's other potential primary challenger is William Daley, a banker and former Obama Administration official who is the brother of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
The dynamics among these three shadowed the politics of concealed carry. Quinn is no more likely to win downstate voters in 2014 than in 2010, so risked nothing, and probably slightly enhanced his standing among Chicago Democrats, by vetoing the bill, even with the certain knowledge he'd be overridden.
The Daley name, whatever its benefits in Chicago, is poison downstate, so Daley has no impetus whatever to be a friend of the gun owner. He sought and got the support of fellow rich businessman and anti-gunner, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He likely will hit Quinn for failing to engage the legislature to make the concealed carry law even more restrictive, and will push follow-up legislation intended to erode gun owner rights.
That leaves Lisa Madigan, who can run as slightly less anti-gun than the other two by pointing out the bipartisan support the carry law received, thanks in no small part to her father. In a three-way primary race among Chicago-based politicians, the downstate vote can be the winning margin, as it was, ironically, for Blagojevich, a veteran anti-gunner who softened his positions to attract votes south of Interstate 80.
So be glad that Illinois got a shall-issue right-to-carry law. Just avert your eyes from how and why it actually happened.