Lawyers in San Antonio and the rest of Texas are paying close attention to the ways in which the new concealed carry laws are playing out in Illinois. This article in My San Antonio Online follows the actions of lawmakers in the Midwest state that seek to change a new law less than a week after it was passed. A compromise forged after decades of debate, the new concealed carry law faces scathing criticism by Democrat state representatives now. Lawmakers who support the new concealed carry law argue that not only was it a bipartisan effort, but it includes some of the most stringent education and licensing requirements in the country.
So what does the law say? Educators who teach concealed carry classes found to be committing fraud - either in signing off on applicants who have not completed all sixteen hours or who falsely advertise their own credentials - will be charged with a felony. It also outlines that the minimum age of an applicant for a concealed permit is 21 years old. Additionally, the criminal penalty for bringing a gun into a school is limited to a misdemeanor for the first two offenses. And it's this portion of the statute that has representatives in Illinois (who are particularly tough on gun control) up in arms, so to speak, about the law’s leniency. Gun-rights advocates are keen to point out that “laws are only as good as the people who decide to follow them.” While this sentiment may play a little fast and loose with the concept of abiding by the law of the land, the crafters of the concealed carry law argue that by decreasing the penalties for the “good guys,” violence may be self-limiting, whereas “bad guys” know no bounds in violation of the law, anyway.
Lawyers in San Antonio may be comparing these requirements and penalties to those in a state perhaps most known for its gun-toting rights: Texas. Costing the average resident somewhere between $70 and $140 for a concealed carry license (including classes), Texas makes exceptions for active and honorably-retired peace officers or judicial officers ($25). For elected felony prosecuting attorneys, it’s free. Go on, lawyers in San Antonio, get your guns up! Okay, but seriously: the requirements for CHL in Texas include a minimum applicant age of 21, clean criminal history (including juvenile records), clean mental and chemically addictive history and even good credit.
The new Illinois law is kind of a big deal, in that it represents the last state in the union to move from a no-issue to a may or shall issue concealed carry licenses. Lawyers in San Antonio, Texas and residents of “blue” and “red” states alike are all surrounded by increasing handgun freedoms. And while requirements and penalties do vary by state, as well as CHL restrictions and applicant qualifications, America is pretty much fully armed, or at least, as much as we can be. The debate in Illinois now is whether and how long to try out the new law before lawmakers go to town tinkering with its details.