Concealed Carry Debate In Illinois Gets Heated - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Concealed Carry Debate In Illinois Gets Heated

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Carrying a concealed weapon in Illinois has been a hot button issue for years. It's a question being put to the voters in several counties on November 6th. Some are raising awareness of the issue before people cast their ballots.

Rock Island County is one of several that will have a referendum asking voters if they support it or not. Tuesday night dozens turned out to a town hall meeting in Moline hosted by a group pushing to pass statewide legislation. Many had questions and concerns, but many also have minds made up.

"It's their second amendment right for one thing, and for protection, but that'd be the last choice you'd ever want to make anyway," said Richard Anderson of Moline.

"They're growing impatient with legislators who continue to violate our rights to protect ourselves," said Valinda Rowe a spokesperson for Illinoiscarry.com, "It's not causing a problem in any of the other states so why wouldn't it work here in Illinois?"

Supporters have strong opinions, and so do those on the opposite side of the spectrum. Some say gun issues hit very close to home. "I was so blind and naive to think gunfire would never attack my family," said Donyale Wilcox of Davenport.

Wilcox has seen what a person carrying a loaded gun can do. "Basically someone decided to take life. Something they can't take back." Her younger brother Samuel Rush, known to loved ones as "Miah," was killed March 30, 2010 in Rock Island. Rush was shot several times.

"Here we are thinking, okay, he got into something. But never in my wildest dreams did we ever imagine he was no longer with us," said Wilcox.

It was a worst case scenario for the family but they say they know it wasn't the gun that killed him. "Regardless of the law there's going to be people that do things that's against the law. That's how it is," said Leonard Hicks, older brother of Samuel Rush.

For Wilcox the concern is about making it easier to get to guns. "When you have it accessible like that it's just so easy to use it. And what lesson are we really trying to teach here? Is it okay or isn't it?" she questioned.

She's not convinced that concealed carry is the right thing for Illinois and worries more families will be faced with the same turmoil she's seen. "The thought of it passing is like a nightmare. I hate it. I hate that Iowa has it. the thought in a whole is just unacceptable," added Wilcox.

Hicks thinks there's too much violence now and too many abuse the system. "Guns are not working right now." But says the focus should also be on changing attitudes.

"Nothing is fool proof. There's nothing 100 percent going to say this is going to stop. We have to change our mind. We have to get our thought process to the point where we value our fellow man like we value our own lives," added Hicks.

Henry County voters will also be voting on the right to carry issue on November 6th. In informational town hall meeting will be held Wednesday night at Central Theater in Geneseo at 7pm.