Adjusting to Concealed Carry

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By WSIL Reporter

WSIL -- It's been just over a year since Illinois became the last state in the nation to allow the concealed carry of a weapon. But many are still warming up to the concept.


Last week, Illinois State Police received calls from worried drivers about a motorcyclist with an exposed gun heading toward Marion.


Marion police were contacted by State Police saying the motorcyclist had the butt of a handgun sticking out of his waistband.


Officers stopped the individual who did in fact have a valid FOID card and an Illinois Concealed Carry permit.


But this instance brings to light a bigger question: how is the public responding to concealed carry? Many people are still adjusting to the law.


Last July, Illinois passed the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, allowing people with permits to carry handguns if they are completely or mostly concealed from public view.


Larry Morse, firearm trainer, explains what that means in real world situations like this one. "Having a guy with a gun exposed, that's wrong for him to do that. But the reality of it is if it's a mistake or the wind blew his shirt open, that's not illegal," he says.


Morse says it's up to the person carrying to take extra precautions to avoid those situations. "But really, it's your responsibility and maybe this gentleman on the motorcycle maybe got a wake up call to wear something that covers the thing up," he says.


But law enforcement have their own responsibilities to uphold.


Brian Murrah with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office says protecting the public is their ultimate goal. "Something that looks like a weapon, that's plainly visible, we will check that out, we have to. We don't know until we talk to that person whether or not they're a valid permit holder," he explains.


But Murrah also says he hasn't come across many serious problems with concealed carry. Most of the time, it comes down to explaining the rules to someone who carries.


Morse admits even for an experienced gun handler like himself, it can be easy to overlook something that could turn into an issue. "That happened to me the other day and I made a mistake and maybe this guy made a mistake," says Morse.


As for the public, there are still some growing pains that are expected with the new law. When in doubt, Murrah says, it's best to contact the authorities. "If you see something that concerns you, something that alarms you, let us check it out and make sure things are alright," he says.
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