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Lyons: Hold your fire on concealed-carry zealotry

Whether it’s gun control, equal rights or drug laws, watching just how far the pendulum will swing ranks with baseball as far as national pastimes go.

In less than half a century, we went from putting a guy in a mental institution because he’s a little too deft at mixing and matching throw pillows to state-sanctioned gay marriage.

At this rate, within 10 years, I’ll get a certified letter from the IRS requiring me to get hitched to some truck driver named Kurt or lose my health insurance.

An interesting behind-the-scenes swing is taking place in the wake of the passage of concealed-carry legislation finally approved in Illinois – the last state to adopt such a measure.

I have no problem with the concealed-carry law. Permit holders will undergo training. Guns still won’t be allowed in government buildings or schools, and people who go through the proper channels can get permits.

Criminals never cared about proper channels and carried handguns regardless of gun laws. We shouldn’t worry about law-abiding citizens having the right to carry firearms where they are legally allowed to do so.

There’s another part of the law, which also makes perfect sense: If you own a business, you have the right to ban customers, visitors or clients from carrying handguns inside your business.

The Illinois State Police website, www.isp.state.il.us/firearms/ccw, even has a PDF of a sign you can download for use in your place of business of a red circle with a line through it over an image of a handgun.

Obviously, many business owners are interested in banning handguns from their businesses. Some won’t. It’s their right to handle it however they want, just as it’s within gun owners’ rights to carry handguns where they’re legally allowed to do so.

Most people who have no dog in this fight agree this is reasonable. If the proprietors of Mega Trampoline don’t want some guy strapped with a Berreta doing backflips at my kid’s birthday party, I’m down with that.

But the McHenry County Right to Carry Association is fighting back and urging local chambers of commerce to discourage the use of the signs, with some rather silly hyperbolic arguments.

“If state law permits concealed carry and if a business owner posts against it, is he increasing his liability, if an armed robbery occurs on his premises and customers or employees are injured or killed? A robber can be fairly sure that his victims will be unarmed, if he sees the sign on the door. If he doesn’t see the sign, then is a robber likely to pass up that business, because he won’t know whether an employee or customer might be armed?”

First of all, most business owners always have had the right to be armed in their own stores. Secondly, what business’ primary safety plan is the hope that some random armed citizen strolling through the shop will protect them from armed robbers? Might as well stick a sign on the door stating “This Store is Protected by Batman.”

Having spent a fair amount of time on the South Side of Chicago in younger days, I can think of a few times, places and situations where I might have felt safer carrying a handgun. But at what kind of McHenry County businesses are customers with concealed handguns vital to our shopping or dining needs?

“Sure, honey, I’d love to try that new sushi place, but, you know, I don’t trust unknown wasabi unless my Glock is securely holstered. What if that dragon roll tries to make a move?”

We’re all going to get used to the concealed-carry law, and it’s going to be fine. In the meantime, I’d caution advocates not to get too overzealous or risk shooting themselves in the foot.

• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at kelyons@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinLyonsNWH.

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