God bless each of you. As you know we have been confronted with the conversation of "concealed carry" promoted as an experiement in Peoria by our Mayor and certain city officials.
While I am not opposed to the right to bear arms, needless to say I am opposed to the particular idea presented for a number of reasons, the least of which is the "wild west" mentality that will be created by such a legalization.
I am preparing a statement to address this issue so a voice can be on file that has tried to bring clarity to the issue and less of a kneejerk reaction to the crime and violence that we face. The facts are these:
During the Peoria Gun Exchange the police officers on the ground expressed to us in no uncertain terms that concealed weapons are the number one fear of an officer encountering the public. With that said, a concealed permit certainly places a much greater stress upon an officer in contact with the public and therefore hinders appropriate actions at the point of contact. It is not without surprise to me that Chief Settingsgaard either is oblivious to or simply overlooks that sentiment among his officers. This must be addressed, and I plan to address it.
It has been said that concealed carry will cause a criminal to think twice about a crime. I don't know what world that idea comes from. Example, my godson Mario Mcgee had for some time before his death a FOID card allowing him the ability to have own and operate a weapon and a handgun in particular. It is suspected that the people that killed him, breaking into the home was well aware that Mario could have had a weapon. There was no second thought about taking his life and IF a weapon had been used his mother would have certainly been killed also. Speculation regarding this what "wouldn't happen" is merely wishful thinking and is not in the best interest of the innoocent.
There is a despairity among who can have a handgun legally under most constructs. in Peoria county there are a disproportionate number of blacks who have felonies and can not qualify to carry a gun legally. This creates a desparity upon the backs of the citizenry and sets people with a "us against them" mentality. This is not a move that a city should make in order to bridge gaps and inequities that currently exist between communities. on this point States Attorney Kevin Lyons and I agree.
Finally, in my opinion, this will only drive and promote the lawless we observe in a more ruthless manner. This will easily promote criminals to be more blatant in their attacks and more frequent in their efforts to commit crime and violence. we have been taught that those who live by the sword, die by the sword. my question is how will the community be benefitted if everyone is dedicated to justice by the sword? It won't work!
In short I do not see a benefit from concealed carry and as a pastor I plan to stand against such. If you would like to sign onto the effort along with me please let me know right away. I would appreciate the support and prayers.
Thank you and God bless.
Pastor Harvey Burnett