As I'm sure most of you have heard, a week ago, on February 14, 2008, a mentally-unstable gunman walked into a classroom at Northern Illinois University and began shooting. Five victims died as a result, and 16 more were injured.
But did you know that Illinois has the strictest laws regarding firearms carry of any state? Not only are gun owners prohibited from carrying firearms - openly or concealed - on college campuses; but they are prohibited from carrying their firearms anywhere in the state by law.
Illinois is currently only one of two remaining states to not permit its citizens to carry concealed weapons. The other, Illinois' neighbor, Wisconsin, at least (theoretically) allows open carry - but as in most places, carrying a pistol openly on your hip is bound to attract undue attention.
Clearly, the restrictive gun laws of Illinois did not stop the shooter at NIU. This only reinforces what we all know but others refuse to acknowledge - there's truly no such thing as a "gun-free zone," and all that these restrictions serve to do is to prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying weapons to defend themselves.
I hate to politicize this tragedy - to some degree, it seems to trivialize the unimaginable loss suffered by the friends and families of the victims. However, I also think that action is necessary to help prevent similar tragedies in the future.
So, please, if you are religiously inclined, pray for the victims and their families. After that, write to your state representatives and campus administrators - demand that they restore our constitutionally-guaranteed right to keep and bear arms. Push your student governments to lobby for our rights. This is now 2 notable shootings in the span of less than a year - help us stop further massacres from occurring on our college campuses.
Mark A. Daniell