Chicago, IL—The laws that were in place here for decades made carrying a concealed weapon by anyone other that a sworn peace officer, and few others a felony (UUW Unlawful Use of a Weapon).
It was after police encountered mass killer Richard Speck with a concealed gun in 1966 that attitudes significantly changed. Speck had just slaughtered eight student nurses and was not yet identified as the killer. Just days later he was at the old Raleigh Hotel on the near North side, where he got into a fee dispute with a local prostitute and threatened her with a gun.
|Mass Murderer Richard Benjamin Speck|
The police were called and it was not handled as an emergency. Cops responded, confronted and frisked Speck. They found his .38 snub-nosed revolver. Rather than arrest Speck the simply did what cops did in those days. Since nobody was injured they just confiscated Speck’s gun and sent him on his way. Rather than inventory the seized gun the cops kept it for their own use.
Soon Speck was identified and arrested after a young physician Dr. Leroy Smith identified him at the Cook County Hospital Emergency Room. Dr. Smith collected a nice reward but I must confess that a cop working the wagon transporting Speck to the hospital actually figured out who he was hauling. Legend has it that since the cop could not collect the reward himself he worked out a deal with Dr. Smith to split the proceeds 50/50.
Once the late and great Chicago police superintendent, Orlando W. Wilson learned about the missed opportunity to pinch Speck with the gun he made some big departmental changes. All, “Man with a gun” calls were handled with lights and sirens. A zero tolerance policy for UUW was put in place. All guns recovered were to be inventoried and submitted to the crime lab for elimination testing for all unsolved crimes where fired bullets or shell casings were recovered.
Police recruits attending the academy were given special indoctrination about making UUW arrests. It became a departmental unwritten standard that every cop that made a UUW arrest would be rewarded with 8 hours of compensatory time off. Gun pinches were a sure way to boost officer’s efficiency ratings.
This gun policy was not about officer safety but simply suspending the Second Amendment. I must chime in here that the UUW pinches were nearly always incident upon the arrest for other and often far more serious violations of law. Otherwise law-abiding citizens carrying guns were not getting involved in criminal events and simply not getting frisked. That’s always been the case.
In 1968 the Illinois Legislature made the law requiring people buying or possessing firearms or ammunition to submit to a background investigation and obtain a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. The cards are routinely suspended and revoked for issues involving restraining orders, mental commitments and arrests.
For Chicago cops some fear that those with permits and concealed weapons will suddenly endanger them. Today we have lots of data that shows there is no additional threat when the law-abiding are allowed to carry concealed firearms. They come from every state in our union.
Cops need to be considered all people they come into contact with to be armed until proven otherwise. All reasonable precautions remain the same.
As for traffic stops and such there needs to be an exchange of simple kindness. The gun-carrying citizens should discreetly tell the officers that he is authorized by permit and is armed. The cops should in turn treat that gun-packing citizen as part of the solution to violence rather than the problem. It has been the statistical experience that those folks holding the permits are an incredibly honorable and peaceful bunch.
There are those anti-gun advocates love to throw out inflated statistics about revoked CCW permits. The truth is many permits are suspended or revoked on misinformation, error and data failures. Then there are those arrested after s shooting who are later cleared and have their permits reinstated.