When the cameras were turned towards Rev. Philip Blackwell at Governor Quinn’s press conference with the Illinois Anti-Violence Commission, the question on his mind was, “how did I get here?”
In May, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn convened a press conference to hear statements from the Commission regarding Illinois H.B. 148. The bill, dubiously named “the Family and Personal Protection Act”, would have allowed individuals with permits to carry concealed, loaded firearms in public places like restaurants, restrooms, playgrounds, hospitals, malls, banks, and on public transportation.
After the public action at the 2011 Congress, on issues regarding gun violence and the availability of handguns, SCUPE was pleased to hear that the Commission unanimously opposed the current conceal and carry legislation. The Governor also came out strong against handgun proliferation saying he would stand with the majority of Illinois residents who oppose concealed carry and veto this bill should it find its way to his desk.
Rev. Blackwell gave one of many moving testimonies at the press conference. He expertly made the case that H.B. 148 would make Illinois Residents not safer, but more vulnerable. He cited research from Harvard University which concludes that “in homes, cities, and states where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide”.
Blackwell, who had earlier spoken with the Deputy Governor Cristal Thomas as a part of the delegation of the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry, credited the Congress as the reason he was up in front of the cameras. Referencing the critical influence of faith communities he stated, “We who lead religious communities see the impact of this violence since we are in the neighborhoods seven days a week – on the streets, in the shops, involved in people’s lives, often people in desperate situations. So, now we are alarmed that there are people in the Illinois Legislature who want to increase the presence of guns in our society by allowing people to carry them hidden and loaded wherever they go. They say that it will make us safer the facts say otherwise.”
SCUPE and the delegates at its 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry thank Governor Quinn for responding to our public action and to majority view of citizens by opposing public policy that is contrary to the common good. Due to the Governor’s stance, H.B. 148 is currently dead in the water, leaving Illinois and Wisconsin as the two states without conceal carry.