A glimpse into the ISRA/NRA playbook…
I came across two interesting things in my inbox last week. The first was a message from State Representative Laura Fine outlining new laws in effect for 2014. It also included an invitation to a educational forum on the concealed carry law to be held Wednesday, January 22nd at the Glenview Police Station. The forum was being held in response to questions from business owners and residents about how the ccw law will affect them. The panel will include representatives from the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV) and the Cook County States Attorneys Office. The ICHV is the oldest and largest statewide organization of its kind in the U.S. Part of its mission is to educate the public about firearm violence and misuse and advocate for legislation to reduce easy access to guns. The States Attorney’s Office is charged with prosecuting crimes. Their expertise in translating the language of the law seems to make them a natural and valuable representative for the forum.
The second email was forwarded to me by a friend of mine. The Illinois State Rifle Association issued an “urgent alert” announcing “antigunners to be holding meetings attacking concealed carry.” Their email alleges that the purpose of the forum is not to educate, but to “frighten the public and spread lies about concealed carry on public safety.” It goes on to say that: “Rep. Fine, the ICHV and the Cook County State's Attorneys Office want to strip you of your right of self defense, and then come take your guns away. ARE YOU GOING TO STAND BY AND LET THE GUN GRABBERS TAKE WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY YOURS? Of course not. That is why you must stand up now and defend your rights! That is why we must flood Fine's "Public Meeting" with solid supporters of the 2nd Amendment!”
If anyone is to be called out on fear mongering, it needs to be the ISRA. They persistently stir up fears about gun confiscation among their base. While recognizing the second amendment, they ignore and disrespect the first amendment. Last year, an educational event was held at the Glenview Police Station meant to educate the public on gun violence. The ISRA had issued a similar alert prior to the event and its loyal members turned out en masse and prohibited the panelists from being able to speak uninterrupted, as they heckled any statement they found disagreeable. As I looked at those around me, I shrank in my seat, feeling as if I was surrounded by a group of schoolyard bullies.
Although the issue of guns and gun violence has been politicized and elicited visceral responses on both sides of the issue, I see it as a public health issue. Much like smoking. Unfortunately, the NRA has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control from conducting research related to gun violence. The Tiahrt Amendment, also supported by the NRA, prohibits the release of gun tracing information to journalists, public health researchers and communities impacted by gun violence. Despite the fact that Illinois is the 50th and final state to implement a concealed carry law, there is no public health information about the number of incidents involving a firearm carried in public. Domestically manufactured firearms are not subject to any safety standards. If this law will save more lives and prevent more injuries from occurring, as the ISRA claims it will, then let us be educated about the law and collect information related to ccw incidents in the cold light of day.Marjorie Fujara MD, FAAP