Editorial: Treading water on Illinois gun culture isn’t good enough

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SHARE Editorial: Treading water on Illinois gun culture isn’t good enough

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The sky has not fallen.

Two years ago, this page opposed a law allowing Illinois citizens to carry hidden weapons. We still do. But early evidence after a court-imposed bill became law suggests that the gun landscape here has not changed for the worse.

Frank Main of the Sun-Times this week looked at all 119,000 concealed-carry permits issued over the last 18 months. The total in Chicago is relatively small — the most in any zip code is 538 — and the permits are most popular in predictable areas: high-crime neighborhoods and those with lots of retired cops.

The mild impact is reassuring. Our state and nation’s excessive gun culture can ill affordto grow worse.

EDITORIAL

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Supporters of concealed-carry laws essentially believe in an armed nation, but we can’t agree. A peaceful society is built on a strong social contract, not on a fear of getting shot.

This is what you find in most churches — a culture of peace, not an arms race — and one of the many reasons the recent Charleston church massacre was so shocking. The answer to a church shooting, it seems obvious to us, is not for worshippers to start strapping on guns. When a church plays by the rules of a Wild West saloon, it is no longer a church. The answer is to spread the peaceful culture of a church into society as a whole.

How do to do it?

On the federal level, it begins with mandating universal background checks. Now only licensed gun dealers must conduct background checks. That should be expanded to all gun sales online and at gun shows.On the state and municipal level, it begins with forcing irresponsible gun shops to change their ways or close shop. This is highly doable. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence estimates that just 5 percent of gun dealers supply 90 percent of guns that end up at crime scenes.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday against three suburbs gets tothe heart of this. The suit against Riverdale, Lyons and Lincolnwood — home to stores that were the source, along with one in Gary, Ind., of nearly 20 percent of Chicago crime guns in recent years — accuses the villages of failing to adequately regulate their gun stores. The suit cites a short list of common-sense regulations that all municipalities and gun shops should adopt to keep legal guns out of the hands of criminals.

Building a peaceful culture requires nothing less.

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